Fermentative hydrogen and methane productions using membrane bioreactors

Sammanfattning: The role of energy as a stimulant for economic growth and environmental sustainabilityof any nation has made the focus on green fuels, including fermentative hydrogen (bioH2) andmethane (bioCH4), to be a priority for the World’s policy makers. Nigeria, as the most populousAfrican country, with worsening energy crisis, can benefit from the introduction of the bioH2 andbioCH4 technologies into the country’s energy mix, since such technologies have the potential ofgenerating energy from organic wastes such as fruit waste.Fruit waste was studied in detail in this work because of its great economic andenvironmental potential, as large quantities of the wastes (10–65% of raw fruit) are generatedfrom fruit consumption and processing. Meanwhile, bioH2 and bioCH4 productions involvinganaerobic microorganisms in direct contact with organic wastes have been observed to result insubstrate and product inhibitions, which reduce the gas yields and limit the application of thetechnologies on an industrial scale. For example, in this study, the first experimental work todetermine the effects of hydraulic retention times and fruit mixing on bioH2 production fromsingle and mixed fruits revealed the highest cumulative bioH2 yield to be equivalent to 30% ofthe theoretical yield. However, combining the fermentation process with the application ofmembrane encapsulated cells and membrane separation techniques, respectively, could reducesubstrate and product inhibitions of the microorganisms. This study, therefore, focused on theapplication of membrane techniques to enhance the yields of bioH2 and bioCH4 productions fromthe organic wastes.The second experimental work which focused on reduction of substrate inhibition,involved the investigation of the effects of the PVDF membrane encapsulation techniques on thebioH2 and bioCH4 productions from nutrient media with limonene, myrcene, octanol and hexanalas fruit flavours. The results showed that membrane encapsulated cells produced bioCH4 fasterand lasted longer, compared to free cells in limonene. Also, about 60% membrane protectiveeffect against myrcene, octanol and hexanal inhibitions was obtained. Regarding bioH2production, membrane encapsulated cells, compared to free cells, produced higher average dailyyields of 94, 30 and 77% with hexanal, myrcene and octanol as flavours, respectively. The finalpart of the study, which was aimed at reducing product inhibition, involved the study of theeffects of membrane permeation of volatile fatty acids (VFAs) on the bioreactor hydrodynamicsin relation to bioH2 production. The investigation revealed that low transmembrane pressure of104Pa was required to achieve a 3L h-1m-2 critical flux with reversible fouling mainly due to cakelayer formation, and bioH2 production was also observed to restart after VFAs removal.The results from this study suggest that membrane-based techniques could improve bioH2and bioCH4 productions from fermentation media with substrate and product inhibitions.