Removal of headspace CO2 increases biological hydrogen production

Wooshin Park, Seung H. Hyun, Sang Eun Oh, Bruce E. Logan, In S. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4416-4420
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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