Semisynthetic and Biomolecular Hydrogen Evolution Catalysts
There has been great interest in the development of stable, inexpensive, efficient catalysts capable of reducing aqueous protons to hydrogen (H2), an alternative to fossil fuels. While synthetic H2 evolution catalysts have been in development for decades, recently there has been great progress in engineering biomolecular catalysts and assemblies of synthetic catalysts and biomolecules. In this Forum Article, progress in engineering proteins to catalyze H2 evolution from water is discussed. The artificial enzymes described include assemblies of synthetic catalysts and photosynthetic proteins, proteins with cofactors replaced with synthetic catalysts, and derivatives of electron-transfer proteins. In addition, a new catalyst consisting of a thermophilic cobalt-substituted cytochrome c is reported. As an electrocatalyst, the cobalt cytochrome shows nearly quantitative Faradaic efficiency and excellent longevity with a turnover number of >270000.