Hydrogen produced from anaerobic fermentation of organic matter is a sustainable energy source. Anaerobic hydrogen-producing systems have been typically seeded with heat-treated inocula to eliminate hydrogen-consuming methanogens. This can be both energy- and economically-intensive. In this work, operational parameters were modified to determine if operating a reactor at low pH (5.5) and low SRT (10 hours) would result in a hydrogen-producing system free of methanogens using anaerobic digester sludge with no heat treatment as an inoculum. Initially, the reactor exhibited a hydrogen productivity of approximately 7.9% when fed glucose. After purging was begun with 10% CO2/90% N2, the hydrogen productivity increased to >20% for the first day. Hydrogenotrophic methanogens then established themselves in the reactor, reducing the hydrogen productivity in the second non-purged phase by 80%. The operational controls examined were not sufficient to eliminate hydrogen-consuming methanogens for longer than approximately one week, and thus further methods must be developed.

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