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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2007 Sep 1;98(1):69-79.

Influence of the pH on (open) mixed culture fermentation of glucose: a chemostat study.

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Department of Biotechnology, Delft University of Technology, Julianalaan 67, 2628 BC Delft, The Netherlands.


Catabolic products from anaerobic fermentation processes are potentially of industrial interest. The volatile fatty acids and alcohols produced can be used as building blocks in chemical processes or applied directly as substrates in a mixed culture process to produce bioplastics. Development of such applications requires a predictable and controllable product spectrum of the fermentation process. The aim of the research described in this paper was (i) to investigate the product spectrum of an open mixed culture fermentation (MCF) process as a function of the pH, using glucose as substrate, and (ii) to relate the product spectrum obtained to generalized biochemical and thermodynamic considerations. A chemostat was operated under carbon and energy limitation in order to investigate the pH effect on the product spectrum in a MCF process. A transition from CO(2)/H(2) production at lower pH values to formate production at higher pH values was observed. The ratio of CO(2)/H(2) versus formate production was found to be related to the thermodynamics of formate dehydrogenation to CO(2)/H(2). This transition was associated with a shift in the catabolic products, from butyrate and acetate to ethanol and acetate, likely due to a decrease in the oxidation state of the electron carriers in the cell. The product spectrum of the MCF process as a function of the pH could largely be explained using general biochemical considerations.

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