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Nanolipoprotein Particles for Hydrogen Production

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has developed a method using nanolipoprotein particles (NLP) to solubilize and isolate membrane bound hydrogenases for the biological production of hydrogen.

Hydrogen is a renewable energy carrier that has the potential to replace fossil fuels in our economy. The majority of hydrogen produced today is from natural gas, heavy oils, and coal. The Department of Energy Hydrogen Program technical plan calls for the development and commercialization of hydrogen production, generation, and distribution technology by 2015 and market incorporation by 2020.


Biological production technologies show promise for true renewable biohydrogen from bio-mass. Breakthroughs in biological hydrogen production have been due to genetic engineering of microorganisms for conversion of glucose through both biophotolysis and fermentation; the latter is dependent on hydrogenase enzymes enabling reduction of protons to produce hydrogen. When isolated and used in solution, higher production yields are achieved through tunable reaction conditions and elimination of competing cellular processes that inhibit hydrogen conversion. These processes though suffer from difficult isolation protocols and oxygen sensitivity of soluble hydrogenase enzymes.

LLNL has developed a method using nanolipoprotein particles (NLP) to solubilize and isolate membrane bound hydrogenases; these constructs are less sensitive to oxygen. Hydrogenases isolated within NLPs retain their functional proton to hydrogen conversion activity. The February/March 2008 Innovation highlights extemophile hydrogenase incorporation in to NLPs by LLNL researchers. For more information on membrane bound protein isolation using NLPs see a recent publication in Journal of Proteome Research, 2008, 7, 3535-3542.

  • NLP method provides for rapid, easy isolation, solubilization and stabiliziation of functional hydrogenases for hydrogen production.
  • Hydrogenases have higher selectivity, lower temperature requirements, and higher abundance than inorganic catalysts currently used in fossil fuel based production processes.
  • Immobilization in NLPs introduces the capability to use high oxygen sensitive membrane bound hydrogenases.
  • NLP-hydrogenases can be immobilized on dense, high surface area materials for modular, continuous hydrogen production and direct hydrogen storage interfacing.
Applications and Industries

This invention can be developed for hydrogen generation useful to industry and research. Other near-future uses include distributed hydrogen power applications such as fuel cells for both mobile and stationary. In line with DOE goals, this invention could be the basis for centralized hydrogen production for large scale power distribution.

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 9,688,718
Nanolipoprotein particles comprising hydrogenases and related products, methods and systems
Provided herein are nanolipoprotein particles that comprise a membrane associated hydrogenase and related assemblies, devices, methods and systems.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory 06/27/2017
Technology Status
Development StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated

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To: Annemarie Meike<>