Insurmountable Hurdles for Fermentative H2 Production?

Patrik R. Jones, M. Kalim Akhtar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


The production of H2 by fermentative conversion of photosynthetic glucose into H2, CO2, and residual hydrocarbons is one potential method for renewable fuel production. One of the main theoretical issues with fermentative H2 production is the low stoichiometric yield of H2 per glucose. Numerous studies on the engineering of microorganisms for H2 synthesis have been reported, although none have, as yet, successfully demonstrated H2 yields beyond 33% of the maximum stoichiometric potential. The low yields are due principally to two main reasons, described herein as potentially insurmountable hurdles. The first hurdle is the thermodynamic limitation attributed to the energetically unfavorable link among fermentative metabolism, the maintenance of reduced to oxidized ratios of central electron acceptor/donors, and the use of H2 as a final electron sink. The second hurdle is incomplete oxidation of glucose in the absence of O2. In light of these issues, natural and potential engineering solutions for H2 synthesis are discussed. The main conclusion that can be drawn from this is that these hurdles will be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to overcome and will therefore require alternative approaches if fermentative H2 is to become an important method of fuel production in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiohydrogen
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9780444595553
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Escherichia coli
  • Fermentation
  • Fuel
  • Glucose
  • Incomplete oxidation
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Renewable
  • Thermodynamic limitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering


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