For biological hydrogen production by fermentation to be a useful method of hydrogen generation, molar yields of hydrogen must be increased. While heat treatment of a soil inoculum increases hydrogen yields by preventing loss of hydrogen to methanogenesis, hydrogen is still lost to acetic acid generation from hydrogen and CO2. To reduce hydrogen losses via acetogenesis, CO2 concentrations in the headspace were substantially reduced during hydrogen production using a chemical scavenger (KOH). CO2 in the headspace was decreased from 24.5% (control) to a maximum of 5.2% during the highest gas production phase, resulting in a hydrogen partial pressure of 87.4%. This reduction in CO2 increased the hydrogen yield by 43% (from 1.4 to 2.0 mol of H2/mol of glucose). The soluble byproducts in all tests consisted primarily of acetate and ethanol. Higher concentrations of ethanol (10.9 mM) remained in solution from bottles with CO2 removal than in the control (1.2 mM), likely as a result of hydrogen inhibition of biological ethanol conversion to acetic acid. These results show that hydrogen production can be increased by removing CO2 in the reactor vessel, likely as a result of suppression of acetogenesis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry