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Bioresour Technol. 2009 Jul;100(13):3261-7. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2009.01.049. Epub 2009 Mar 17.

Selective inhibition of methanogenesis to enhance ethanol and n-butyrate production through acetate reduction in mixed culture fermentation.

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Sub-Department of Environmental Technology, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Acetate reduction is an alternative digestion process to convert organic waste into ethanol. Using acetate for fuel ethanol production offers the opportunity to use organic waste materials instead of sugar-containing feedstock. Methanogenesis, however, competes with acetate reduction for acetate and hydrogen and lowers the final efficiency. The aim of this research is to selectively inhibit methanogenesis and to enhance acetate reduction. Acetate reduction was stimulated in batch tests at pH between 4.5 and 8; and at pH 6 with and without thermal pre-treatment. It was found that methanogenesis was selectively inhibited while acetate reduction was enhanced after thermal pre-treatment incubated at pH 6. Initially the acetate reduction yielded 7.7+/-3.2mM ethanol with an efficiency of 60.2+/-8.7%, but later on it was consumed to form 7.02+/-0.85 mM n-butyrate with an efficiency of 76.2+/-14.0%. It was the first time demonstrated that n-butyrate can be produced by mixed cultures from only acetate and hydrogen.

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