Fermentative hydrogen production from low-value substrates

  • Ahmed H. S. HassanEmail author
  • Thorsten Mietzel
  • Ruth Brunstermann
  • Sebastian Schmuck
  • Jens Schoth
  • Marco Küppers
  • Renatus Widmann


Hydrogen is a promising energy source that is believed to replace the conventional energy sources e.g. fossil fuels over years. Hydrogen production methods can be divided into conventional production methods which depend mainly on fossil fuels and alternative production methods including electrolysis of water, biophotolysis and fermentation hydrogen production from organic waste materials. Compared to the conventional methods, the alternative hydrogen production methods are less energy intensive and negative-value substrates i.e. waste materials can be used to produce hydrogen. Among the alternative methods, fermentation process including dark and photo-fermentation has gained more attention because these processes are simple, waste materials can be utilized, and high hydrogen yields can be achieved. The fermentation process is affected by several parameters such as type of inoculum, pH, temperature, substrate type and concentration, hydraulic retention time, etc. In order to achieve optimum hydrogen yields and maximum substrate degradation, the operating conditions of the fermentation process must be optimized. In this review, two routes for biohydrogen production as dark and photo-fermentation are discussed. Dark/photo-fermentation technology is a new approach that can be used to increase the hydrogen yield and improve the energy recovery from organic wastes.


Biohydrogen Dark fermentation Dark/photo-fermentation systems Hydrogen production rate Hydrogen yield Photo-fermentation 



Anaerobic baffled reactor


Anaerobic fluidized bed reactor




Carbon dioxide


Chemical oxygen demand


Continuous stirring tank reactor


Dark fermentation


Dissolved oxygen


Gibbs free energy



H2 yield

Hydrogen yield


Acetic acid


Butyric acid


Higher heating value


Propionic acid


Hydrogen production rate


Lower heating value


Microbial fuel cells




Organic loading rate


Oxidation reduction potential


Pack bed biofilm reactor


Purple non-sulfur bacteria


Textile wastewater


Up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket


Volatile fatty acids


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Urban Water and Waste Management Department, Faculty of EngineeringUniversity of Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany
  2. 2.Water Pollution Research DepartmentNational Research CentreCairoEgypt

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