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Biotechnol Lett. 2007 May;29(5):685-95. Epub 2007 Feb 6.

Improving the yield from fermentative hydrogen production.

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Department of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto, 35 St. George Street, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5S 1A4.


Efforts to increase H(2) yields from fermentative H(2) production include heat treatment of the inoculum, dissolved gas removal, and varying the organic loading rate. Although heat treatment kills methanogens and selects for spore-forming bacteria, the available evidence indicates H(2) yields are not maximized compared to bromoethanesulfonate, iodopropane, or perchloric acid pre-treatments and spore-forming acetogens are not killed. Operational controls (low pH, short solids retention time) can replace heat treatment. Gas sparging increases H(2) yields compared to un-sparged reactors, but no relationship exists between the sparging rate and H(2) yield. Lower sparging rates may improve the H(2) yield with less energy input and product dilution. The reasons why sparging improves H(2) yields are unknown, but recent measurements of dissolved H(2) concentrations during sparging suggest the assumption of decreased inhibition of the H(2)-producing enzymes is unlikely. Significant disagreement exists over the effect of organic loading rate (OLR); some studies show relatively higher OLRs improve H(2) yield while others show the opposite. Discovering the reasons for higher H(2) yields during dissolved gas removal and changes in OLR will help improve H(2) yields.

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