Inhibition of biohydrogen production by ammonia

Michael B. Salerno, Wooshin Park, Yi Zuo, Bruce E. Logan

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154 Scopus citations


Ammonia inhibition of biohydrogen production was investigated in batch and continuous flow reactors with glucose as a substrate. In batch tests, biohydrogen production rate was highly dependent on pH and ammonia (defined as the sum of NH3 of NH4+ species) concentrations above 2 g N/L. At pH=6.2, the maximum production decreased from 56 mL/h at 2 g N/L to 16 mL/h at 10 g N/L. At pH=5.2, production decreased from 49 mL/h (2 g N/L) to 7 mL/h (16 g N/L). Hydrogen yield remained relatively constant in batch tests, varying from 0.96 to 1.17 mol-H2/mol-glucose. In continuous flow tests, both hydrogen production rates and yields were adversely affected by ammonia. When the reactor (2.0 L) was first acclimated under batch conditions to a low nitrogen concentration (<0.8 g N/L), H2 production and yields under continuous flow mode conditions were 170 mL/h and 1.9 mol-H 2/mol-glucose, but decreased with increased ammonia concentrations up to 7.8 g N/L to 105 mL/h and 1.1 mol-H2/mol-glucose. There was no hydrogen production under continuous flow conditions if the reactor was initially operated under batch flow conditions at ammonia concentrations above 0.8 g N/L. It is concluded that the hydrogen production is possible at high concentrations (up to 7.8 g N/L) of ammonia in continuous flow systems as long as the reactor is initially acclimated to a lower ammonia concentration (<0.8 g N/L).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1167-1172
Number of pages6
JournalWater Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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