Better Living Through Biology: Studying Enzymes to Make Industrial Processes More Efficient

Research output: NRELPoster


In biology, enzymes are the molecular machinery needed to speed up slow chemical reactions for life to occur. These molecular machines enhance chemical processes to a large degree, allowing for improbable and challenging chemical reactions to efficiently happen in water at room temperature. Many microorganisms have specialized enzymes used to tackle particularly challenging chemistry that they experience in their own environment. Our group is studying a specific enzyme using a reaction called "electron bifurcation" that energetically pairs electrons and is analogous to a trampoline, using one person's jump to propel another person higher than they could by themselves. We have learned that certain metal- and vitamin-containing pathways in this protein funnel electrons in specific directions. Our investigation into this enzyme is the foundation for future industrial applications, ranging from biological production of sustainable aviation fuel from CO2, production of nitrogen-based fertilizers, and biologically remediating environmental contamination.
Original languageAmerican English
PublisherNational Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
StatePublished - 2024

Publication series

NamePresented at Project Bridge STEM Day, 13 March 2024, Denver, Colorado

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-2700-89099


  • electron bifurcation
  • enzymology


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