Open Access

Direct Fermentative Hydrogen Production from Cellulose and Starch with Mesophilic Bacterial Consortia


Hydrogen produced from lignocellulose biomass is deemed as a promising fuel of the future. However, direct cellulose utilization remains an issue due to the low hydrogen yields. In this study, the long-term effect of inoculum (anaerobic sludge) heat pretreatment on hydrogen production from untreated cellulose and starch was evaluated during repeated batch processes. The inoculum pretreatment at 90°C was not sufficient to suppress H2 consuming bacteria, both for starch and cellulose. Although hydrogen was produced, it was rapidly utilized with simultaneous accumulation of acetic and propionic acid. The pretreatment at 100°C (20 min) resulted in the successful enrichment of hydrogen producers on starch. High production of hydrogen (1.2 l H2/lmedium) and H2 yield (1.7 mol H2/molhexose) were maintained for 130 days, with butyric (1.5 g/l) and acetic acid (0.65 g/l) as main byproducts. On the other hand, the process with cellulose showed lower hydrogen production (0.3 l H2/lmedium) with simultaneous high acetic acid (1.4 g/l) and ethanol (1.2 g/l) concentration. Elimination of sulfates from the medium led to the efficient production of hydrogen in the initial cycles – 0.97 mol H2/molhexose (5.93 mmol H2/gcellulose). However, the effectiveness of pretreatment was only temporary for cellulose, because propionic acid accumulation (1.5 g/l) was observed after 25 days, which resulted in lower H2 production. The effective production of hydrogen from cellulose was also maintained for 40 days in a repeated fed-batch process (0.63 mol H2/molhexose).

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Life Sciences, Microbiology and Virology