Anaerobic digestion is an effective technology to convert cellulosic wastes to methane and hydrogen. Heat-treatment is a well known method to inhibit hydrogen-consuming bacteria in using anaerobic mixed cultures for seeding. This study aims to investigate the effects of heat-treatment temperature and time on activated sludge for fermentative hydrogen production from α-cellulose by response surface methodology. Hydrogen and methane production was evaluated based on the production rate and yield (the ability of converting cellulose into hydrogen and methane) with heat-treated sludge as the seed at various temperatures (60–97°C) and times (20–60 min). Batch experiments were conducted at 55°C and initial pH of 8.0. The results indicate that hydrogen and methane production yields peaked at 4.3 mmol H2/g cellulose and 11.6 mmol CH4/g cellulose using the seed activated sludge that was thermally treated at 60°C for 40 min. These parameter values are higher than those of no-treatment seed (HY 3.6 mmol H2/g cellulose and MY 10.4 mmol CH4/g cellulose). The maximum hydrogen production rate of 26.0 mmol H2/L/d and methane production rate of 23.2 mmol CH4/L/d were obtained for the seed activated sludge that was thermally treated at 70°C for 50 min and 60°C for 40 min, respectively.

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