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H2 enrichment from synthesis gas by Desulfotomaculumcarboxydivorans for potential applications in synthesis gas purification and biodesulfurization


Desulfotomaculum carboxydivorans, recently isolated from a full-scale anaerobic wastewater treatment facility, is a sulfate reducer capable of hydrogenogenic growth on carbon monoxide (CO). In the presence of sulfate, the hydrogen formed is used for sulfate reduction. The organism grows rapidly at 200 kPa CO, pH 7.0, and 55°C, with a generation time of 100 min, producing nearly equimolar amounts of H2 and CO2 from CO and H2O. The high specific CO conversion rates, exceeding 0.8 mol CO (g protein)−1 h−1, makes this bacterium an interesting candidate for a biological alternative of the currently employed chemical catalytic water–gas shift reaction to purify synthesis gas (contains mainly H2, CO, and CO2). Furthermore, as D. carboxydivorans is capable of hydrogenotrophic sulfate reduction at partial CO pressures exceeding 100 kPa, it is also a good candidate for biodesulfurization processes using synthesis gas as electron donor at elevated temperatures, e.g., in biological flue gas desulfurization. Although high maximal specific sulfate reduction rates (32 mmol (g protein)−1 h−1) can be obtained, its sulfide tolerance is rather low and pH dependent, i.e., maximally 9 and 5 mM sulfide at pH 7.2 and pH 6.5, respectively.

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This research was financially supported by a grant from the Technology Foundation STW (grant STW-WBC 5280), applied science division of NWO, the Netherlands, and Shell Global Solutions (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) and Paques B.V. (Balk, the Netherlands).

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Correspondence to Piet N. L. Lens.

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Sipma, J., Osuna, M., Parshina, S.N. et al. H2 enrichment from synthesis gas by Desulfotomaculumcarboxydivorans for potential applications in synthesis gas purification and biodesulfurization. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 76, 339–347 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-007-1028-3

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  • Desulfotomaculum carboxydivorans
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Hydrogenogen
  • Thermophilic
  • Sulfate reduction
  • Biohydrogen production
  • Biological flue gas desulfurization