Reviewing the potential of bio-hydrogen production by fermentation

Hydrogen is a common reactant in the petro-chemical industry and moreover recognized as a potential fuel within the next 20 years. The production of hydrogen from biomass and carbohydrate feedstock, though un- doubtedly desirable and favored, is still at the level of laboratory or pilot scale. The present work reviews the current researched pathways. Different types of carbohydrates, and waste biomass are identified as feedstock for the fermentative bio-hydrogen production. Although all techniques suffer from drawbacks of a low H2 yield and the production of a liquid waste stream rich in VFAs that needs further treatment, the technical advances foster the commercial utilization. Bacterial strains capable of high hydrogen yield are assessed, together with advanced techniques of co-culture fermentation and metabolic engineering. Residual VFAs can be converted. The review provides an insight on how fermentation can be conducted for a wide spectrum of feedstock and how fermen- tation effluent can be valorized by integrating fermentation with other systems, leading to an improved industrial potential of the technique. To boost the fermentation potential, additional research should firstly target its demonstration on pilot or industrial scale to prove the process efficiency, production costs and method reli- ability. It should secondly focus on optimizing the micro-organism functionality, and should finally develop and demonstrate a viable valorization of the residual VFA-rich waste streams.

Targets of genetic modification of common pathways

Reference to the paper: Jan Baeyens, Huili Zhang, Jiapei Nie, Lise Appels, Raf Dewil, Renaud Ansart, Yiming Deng (2020). Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 131, 110023.

Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge financial support by the Fundamental Research Fund for the Central Universities (No. buctrc201726). Additional support was obtained from the Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Soft Matter Science and Engineering of the Beijing University of Chemical Technology.