Enrichment strategy for enhanced bioelectrochemical hydrogen production and the prevention of methanogenesis

Arseniy L. Popov, Iain S. Michie*, Jung Rae Kim, Richard M. Dinsdale, Alan J. Guwy, Sandra R. Esteves, Giuliano C. Premier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The influence of acetate and butyrate enrichment on biofilm structure for enhanced electricity and hydrogen production was investigated using bioelectrochemical systems (BES). Two reactors were enriched for 9 weeks using 20 mM L-1 acetate (AC) and butyrate (BU) in microbial fuel cell mode before transfer into MECs. Acetate and butyrate (20, 10 and 5 mM L-1) substrates were sequentially used as feedstocks for the AC and BU acclimated reactors. Both BU and AC reactors gave initial hydrogen production rates of 200 ± 50 cm3 STP/Lanode/day with a H2 yield of 0.585 ± 0.085 mol mol-1 but when the substrates were switched, the BU (MEC) hydrogen production rate increased to 249 ± 3.0 cm3 STP/Lanode/day and the AC (MEC) decreased to 0 cm3 STP/Lanode/day. It was demonstrated that the amount of methane produced by MEC (BU) was 58 ± 5% lower than that produced by MEC (AC). These results show that butyrate fed BES on an equivalent molar basis, improved MEC bioanodic performance and demonstrated the potential to improve overall performance of an integrated hydrogen fermentation and BES system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4120-4131
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2016


  • Acetate
  • Butyrate
  • Hydrogen
  • Methanogenesis
  • Microbial electrolysis cell
  • Microbial fuel cell


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