High hydrogen production from glycerol or glucose by electrohydrogenesis using microbial electrolysis cells

Priscilla A. Selembo, Joe M. Perez, Wallis A. Lloyd, Bruce E. Logan

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193 Scopus citations


The use of glycerol for hydrogen gas production was examined via electrohydrogenesis using microbial electrolysis cells (MECs). A hydrogen yield of 3.9 mol-H2/mol was obtained using glycerol, which is higher than that possible by fermentation, at relatively high rates of 2.0 ± 0.4 m3/m3 d (Eap = 0.9 V). Under the same conditions, hydrogen was produced from glucose at a yield of 7.2 mol-H2/mol and a rate of 1.9 ± 0.3 m3/m3 d. Glycerol was completely removed within 6 h, with 56% of the electrons in intermediates (primarily 1,3-propanediol), with the balance converted to current, intracellular storage products or biomass. Glucose was removed within 5 h, but intermediates (mainly propionate) accounted for only 19% of the electrons. Hydrogen was also produced using the glycerol byproduct of biodiesel fuel production at a rate of 0.41 ± 0.1 m3/m3 d. These results demonstrate that electrohydrogenesis is an effective method for producing hydrogen from either pure glycerol or glycerol byproducts of biodiesel fuel production. © 2009 International Association for Hydrogen Energy.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5373-5381
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-11-003-13
Acknowledgements: The authors thank S. Cheng, D. Call, E. Lalaurette, D. Jones, J. Chin and P. Cirino for assistance with experiments and analysis and to Nittany Biodiesel for providing glycerol samples from their biodiesel production. This research was supported in part by Award KUS-11-003-13 by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the General Electric First-Year Faculty for the Future Fellowship, and the Arthur and Elizabeth Rose Memorial Fellowship.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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