The production of hydrogen from biomass by fermentation is one of the routes that can contribute to a future sustainable hydrogen economy. Lignocellulosic biomass is an attractive feedstock because of its abundance, low production costs and high polysaccharide content. Batch cultures of Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus and Thermotoga neapolitana produced hydrogen, carbon dioxide and acetic acid as the main products from soluble saccharides in Miscanthus hydrolysate. The presence of fermentation inhibitors, such as furfural and 5-hydroxylmethyl furfural, in this lignocellulosic hydrolysate was avoided by the mild alkaline-pretreatment conditions at a low temperature of 75°C. Both microorganisms simultaneously and completely utilized all pentoses, hexoses and oligomeric saccharides up to a total concentration of 17 g l-1 in pH-controlled batch cultures. T. neapolitana showed a preference for glucose over xylose, which are the main sugars in the hydrolysate. Hydrogen yields of 2.9 to 3.4 mol H2 per mol of hexose, corresponding to 74 to 85% of the theoretical yield, were obtained in these batch fermentations. The yields were higher with cultures of C. saccharolyticus compared to T. neapolitana. In contrast, the rate of substrate consumption and hydrogen production was higher with T. neapolitana. At substrate concentrations exceeding 30 g l-1, sugar consumption was incomplete, and lower hydrogen yields of 2.0 to 2.4 mol per mol of consumed hexose were obtained. Efficient hydrogen production in combination with simultaneous and complete utilization of all saccharides has been obtained during the growth of thermophilic bacteria on hydrolysate of the lignocellulosic feedstock Miscanthus. The use of thermophilic bacteria will therefore significantly contribute to the energy efficiency of a bioprocess for hydrogen production from biomass
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