A new publication in Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology by Laura Rago, Juan Baeza and Albert Guisasola on the possibility of hydrogen production from cheese whey
Microbial electrochemical systems (MXCs) are an emerging technology aiming at recovering part of the energy contained in wastewaters either as electrical energy in microbial fuel cells (MFCs) or as hydrogen in microbial electrolysis cells (MECs). Successful results have been reported with readily biodegradable substrates but its performance with real complex substrates needs to be evaluated to bridge the gap between lab- and full-scale. This work aims at studying bioelectrochemical hydrogen production using real cheese whey as sole substrate. This study shows the high potentiality of cheese whey, as carbon sources for bioelectrochemical processes and evaluates, through advanced microbial tools, the populations involved. A syntrophic consortium to produce H2 directly from cheese whey in a single-chamber MEC was efficiently selected. Cheese whey was fermented mainly by lactic acid bacteria (Enterococcus genus) and exoelectrogenic activity was performed by Geobacter sp.
The coulombic efficiency was 49±8% in the MFC fed only with cheese whey, which is higher than most of other CE reported for MFCs fed with dairy products. Good results for H2 production in MEC (0.8 LH2·L-1REACTOR·d-1) were obtained with cheese whey as sole carbon source