Hydrogen production by the thermophilic bacterium Thermotoga neapolitana
- Cite this article as:
- Van Ooteghem, S.A., Beer, S.K. & Yue, P.C. Appl Biochem Biotechnol (2002) 98: 177. doi:10.1385/ABAB:98-100:1-9:177
Virtually all members of the order Thermotogales have demonstrated the ability to produce hydrogen; however, some members of this order produce considerably greater quantities than others. With one representative of this order, Thermotoga neapolitana, we have consistently obtained accumulation of 25–30% hydrogen with 12–15% carbon dioxide as the only other prominent product in the batch reaction. In contradistinction to information widely disseminated in the literature, we have also found that most members of this order tolerate and appear to utilize the moderate amounts of oxygen present in the gaseous phase of batch reactors (6–12%), with no apparent decrease in hydrogen production. Hydrogen accumulation has been widely reported to inhibit growth of Thermotogales. While this may be true at very high hydrogen tensions, we have observed log phase bacterial morphology (rods) even in the presence of 25–35% hydrogen concentrations. To maximize hydrogen production and minimize production of hydrogen sulfide, inorganic sulfur donors are avoided and the cysteine concentration in the medium is increased. We and others have demonstrated that different members of the order Thermotogales utilize a wide variety of feedstocks, including complex carbohydrates and proteins. Thus, it appears that organisms within this order have the potential to utilize a variety of organic wastes and to cost-effectively generate hydrogen.