Biological hydrogen production measured in batch anaerobic respirometers

Bruce E. Logan, Sang Eun Oh, In S. Kim, Steven Van Ginkel

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496 Scopus citations


The biological production of hydrogen from the fermentation of different substrates was examined in batch tests using heat-shocked mixed cultures with two techniques: an intermittent pressure release method (Owen method) and a continuous gas release method using a bubble measurement device (respirometric method). Under otherwise identical conditions, the respirometric method resulted in the production of 43% more hydrogen gas from glucose than the Owen method. The lower conversion of glucose to hydrogen using the Owen protocol may have been produced by repression of hydrogenase activity from high partial pressures in the gastight bottles, but this could not be proven using a thermodynamic/rate inhibition analysis. In the respirometric method, total pressure in the headspace never exceeded ambient pressure, and hydrogen typically composed as much as 62% of the headspace gas. High conversion efficiencies were consistently obtained with heat-shocked soils taken at different times and those stored for up to a month. Hydrogen gas composition was consistently in the range of 60-64% for glucose-grown cultures during logarithmic growth but declined in stationary cultures. Overall, hydrogen conversion efficiencies for glucose cultures were 23% based on the assumption of a maximum of 4 mol of hydrogen/mol of glucose. Hydrogen conversion efficiencies were similar for sucrose (23%) and somewhat lower for molasses (15%) but were much lower for lactate (0.50%) and cellulose (0.075%).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2530-2535
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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