Feasibility of biohydrogen production at low temperatures in unbuffered reactors

Venkataramana Gadhamshetty, David C. Johnson, Nagamany Nirmalakhandan, Geoff B. Smith, Shuguang Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Feasibility of biohydrogen production by dark fermentation at two temperatures (22 °C and 37 °C) in unbuffered batch reactors was evaluated using heat-treated compost as inocula and sucrose as substrate, without any initial pH adjustment or inorganic nutrient supplements. Gas production was quantified by two different pressure release methods - intermittent pressure release (IPR) and continuous pressure release (CPR). Hydrogen production (47.2 mL/g COD/L) and sucrose-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency (53%) were both found to be highest at the lower temperature and IPR conditions. Hydrogen production was higher at the lower temperature irrespective of the pressure release condition. The high yield of 4.3 mol of hydrogen/mole of sucrose obtained in this study under IPR conditions at 22 °C is equivalent to or better than the literature values reported for buffered reactors. Even though literature reports have implied potential inhibition of hydrogen production at high hydrogen partial pressures resulting from IPR conditions, our results did not show any negative effects at hydrogen partial pressures exceeding 5.0 × 104 Pa. While our findings are contrary to literature reports, they make a strong case for cost-effective hydrogen production by dark fermentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1233-1243
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Anaerobic fermentation
  • Bioenergy
  • Biohydrogen
  • Gibbs free energy
  • Intermittent pressure release
  • Temperature
  • Unbuffered

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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