Biohydrogen gas production from food processing and domestic wastewaters

Steven W. Van Ginkel, Sang Eun Oh, Bruce E. Logan

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The food processing industry produces highly concentrated, carbohydrate-rich wastewaters, but their potential for biological hydrogen production has not been extensively studied. Wastewaters were obtained from four different food-processing industries that had chemical oxygen demands of 9 g/L (apple processing), 21 g/L (potato processing), and 0.6 and 20 g/L (confectioners A and B). Biogas produced from all four food processing wastewaters consistently contained 60% hydrogen, with the balance as carbon dioxide. Chemical oxygen demand (COD) removals as a result of hydrogen gas production were generally in the range of 5-11%. Overall hydrogen gas conversions were 0.7-0.9 L-H2/L-wastewater for the apple wastewater, 0.1 L/L for Confectioner-A, 0.4-2.0 L/L for Confectioner B, and 2.1-2.8 L/L for the potato wastewater. When nutrients were added to samples, there was a good correlation between hydrogen production and COD removal, with an average of 0.10±0.01L-H2/g-COD. However, hydrogen production could not be correlated to COD removal in the absence of nutrients or in more extensive in-plant tests at the potato processing facility. Gas produced by a domestic wastewater sample (concentrated 25×) contained only 23±8% hydrogen, resulting in an estimated maximum production of only 0.01 L/L for the original, non-diluted wastewater. Based on an observed hydrogen production yield from the effluent of the potato processing plant of 1.0 L-H2/L, and annual flows at the potato processing plant, it was estimated that if hydrogen gas was produced at this site it could be worth as much as $65,000/year.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1535-1542
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number15
StatePublished - Dec 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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