Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Chemical Engineering

Major Professor

Paul D. Frymier

Committee Members

Barry D. Bruce, Hugh M. O'Neill, Eric T. Boder


Photosystem I (PSI) from plants, algae, and cyanobacteria can mediate H2 evolution in vivo and in vitro. A simple, self-platinization procedure that permits stable PSI-mediated H2 evolution in vitro has been developed. The H2 evolution capabilities of PSI from Thermosynechococcus elongatus have been characterized. This organism utilizes cytochrome c6 (cyt c6) as the e- donor to P700. Using a solution-based, self-organized platinization of the PSI nanoparticles, this study demonstrates a sodium ascorbate-cyt-PSI-Pt-H2 electron transport and proton reduction system that yields light-dependent H2. The system was thermostable with H2 evolution increasing up to 55°C. In addition, stability studies have shown the H2 evolution to be very stable, with no significant decrease over the 80 days investigated. Through simple optimization a H2 production rate of ~5.5 mol H2/h/mg Chl [micro-mole H2 per hour per milligram chlorophyll] was attained. To further optimize the H2 production Asc-cyt-PSI-Pt-H2 system, response surface methodology (RSM) was employed. The process parameter studied included temperature, light intensity and platinum salt concentration. The results showed that experimental data had a good fit to the proposed model (R2=0.99 and p < 0.001). Platinum salt concentration, temperature and the interaction between platinum salt concentration and temperature showed significant effects on the total H2 yield. Light intensity had minimal effect of the total H2 yield within the region studied. The optimum parameters for H2 photoproduction were light intensity of 240 μE/m2/s, [micro-eistien per square meter per second], platinum salt concentration of 636 μM [micro-mol/liter] and temperature of 310C. Finally, studies that will improve the H2 yield by increasing the kinetics of electron transfer were done. A hybrid protein was formed by engineering a gene to express a fusion of the membrane-bound [Ni-Fe] hydrogenase from Ralstonia eutropha H16 and the stromal-exposed subunits PsaE and PsaD of PSI from T. elongatus. A PsaE-free mutant of PSI was simultaneously formed by genetically disrupting the expression of the PsaE subunit of a native PSI; that will allow in vitro reconstitution of the desired PsaE-hydrogenase fusion protein with PsaE-free PSI.

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