Biological hydrogen production by Clostridium acetobutylicum in an unsaturated flow reactor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

218 Scopus citations


A mesophilic unsaturated flow (trickle bed) reactor was designed and tested for H2 production via fermentation of glucose. The reactor consisted of a column packed with glass beads and inoculated with a pure culture (Clostridium acetobutylicum ATCC 824). A defined medium containing glucose was fed at a flow rate of 1.6 mL/min (0.096 L/h) into the capped reactor, producing a hydraulic retention time of 2.1 min. Gas-phase H2 concentrations were constant, averaging 74±3% for all conditions tested. H2 production rates increased from 89 to 220 mL/h L of reactor when influent glucose concentrations were varied from 1.0 to 10.5 g/L. Specific H2 production rate ranged from 680 to 1270 mL/g glucose per liter of reactor (total volume). The H2 yield was 15-27%, based on a theoretical limit by fermentation of 4 moles of H2 from 1 mole of glucose. The major fermentation by-products in the liquid effluent were acetate and butyrate. The reactor rapidly (within 60-72 h) became clogged with biomass, requiring manual cleaning of the system. In order to make long-term operation of the reactor feasible, biofilm accumulation in the reactor will need to be controlled through some process such as backwashing. These tests using an unsaturated flow reactor demonstrate the feasibility of the process to produce high H2 gas concentrations in a trickle-bed type of reactor. A likely application of this reactor technology could be H2 gas recovery from pre-treatment of high carbohydrate-containing wastewaters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)728-734
Number of pages7
JournalWater Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Biological hydrogen production by Clostridium acetobutylicum in an unsaturated flow reactor'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this