Biohydrogen – clean fuel  from dirty stuff

Tools for feedstock and process optimisation of dark fermentation

Hydrogen has shown enormous potential to be an alternative fuel of the future. Despite the progress in recent years, significant efforts are still needed in order to address a number of challenges for obtaining sustainable industrial-scale hydrogen production. Dark fermentation is the principal biohydrogen production pathway owing to its high biohydrogen production rate and its independence of an external light source. In fermentation-based systems, microorganisms, such as bacteria, break down organic matter to produce hydrogen. The organic matter can be refined sugars, lignocellulosic biomass sources, and even wastewater. The process of fermentative hydrogen production is complex. Apart from the type of microbial inoculum and the feedstock used for biohydrogen production, many other factors (e.g. pH, temperature, nutrients concentration, presence of inhibitors) influence the process. The assessment of biological hydrogen potential (BHP) is a common procedure to evaluate the substrate, inoculum and the operational conditions for process optimisation.

The AMPTS® III recommended by many scientists as the automatic device for continuous monitoring of hydrogen release in biohydrogen production batch assays. In comparison with the conventional test based on manual operation, the analysis precision (repeatability and reproducibility) can be significantly improved by reducing substrate concentration and increasing the buffer capacity with combination of using the automated measuring strategy demonstrated by the AMPTS. In addition, the automated protocol based on AMPTS reduces the workload time from 32 to 65% compared to the manual alternative. Even though only the AMPTS has been reported for biological hydrogen potential analysis, the Gas Endeavour® III could be an even better choice for the same analysis. Its modular design makes the instrument being more user friendly in both analysis and maintenance.


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Preferred instrument for biohydrogen potential

Areas of application

related to biohydrogen production

Performing batch assays is the most common strategy to estimate the biohydrogen potential (BHP) of substrates for hydrogen production. AMPTS is currently the only automatic system proposed in the first internationally validated standardised protocol to run BHP batch tests. The fully integrated and automatic AMPTS series and its new generation, Gas Endeavour, allows for testing new potential feedstocks and evaluating compositional features of different substrates that affect biohydrogen production.

Screening under relevant conditions is key for evaluating microbial performance. Statistically reliable results demand many parallel tests which considerably increase the amount of experimental effort required. AMPTS and Gas Endeavour can be used to carry out either 15 or 6 tests in parallel automatically to acquire information both on the final hydrogen yield and on the fermentation kinetics.

Since reaction pathways and thus hydrogen yield depends on operating conditions of the anaerobic bioreactor (e.g., pH, temperature, substrate concentration, nutrients), it is important to systematically evaluate their influences. AMPTS and Gas Endeavour allows a fast and an effective way to screen the important factors among several variables and carry out fermentation process optimisation.

Lignocellulosic wastes are promising renewable feedstock sources due to their abundance and low cost. However, pre-treatment is needed to break down lignin and holocellulose structures for releasing sugars. In addition to sugars, several degradation products (e.g. furfural, HMF, phenolic compounds) could be formed during the pre-treatment that can negatively affect biohydrogen production. there is a great interest to characterise the inhibitory effects of compounds, evaluate possible detoxification methods or assess the suitability of pre-treatments for enhanced dark fermentation.

Benefits & advantages

Continuous and real-time measurement

The Gas Endeavour and AMPTS series allows for continuous and on-line monitoring of dark fermentation process by continuously monitoring the production of hydrogen in real-time. Fully integrated and automatic, the Gas Endeavour and AMPTS series significantly reduces labour and skill demands compared to conventional manual operation. It produces high-quality data in real-time for extracting important kinetic information of dark fermentation.

Automatic pressure and temperature compensation leading to high accuracy and reliability in analysis

Real-time temperature and pressure compensation minimise the impact of possible variations in measurement conditions and standardise data presentation satisfying the highest demands for data accuracy and precision.

Compact and modular design

The modular approach enables flexible system set-up, easy upgrading options and simple maintenance. The Gas Endeavour and AMPTS series works as a stand-alone unit with either 15 or 6 gas volume meters and can easily be further expanded by connecting multiple instruments with a network switch in order to satisfy demands and shorten development times.

Short set-up times and easy handling

Simple to use and easy to learn. The web-based software application makes setting up and monitoring experiments very easy. The Gas Endeavour and AMPTS series also allow easy access from a remote location using any computer, smartphone or tablet.

Gas Endeavour® III

– a novel tool for process optimisation of biohydrogen production

The Gas Endeavour III is a novel platform for analysing low gas volume and flow whenever there is a demand for high accuracy and precise measurements. The instrument can be used for research and industrial applications relating to: various biohydrogen processes, animal nutrition, wastewater, bioethanol fermentation, aerobic and anaerobic respiration, evaluation of microbial communities,  greenhouse gas emission and more.

BPC Gas Endeavor MAX for both batch and continuous anaerobic and aerobic biodegradability testing


– a tool for anaerobic batch fermentation tests

The Automatic Methane Potential Test System (AMPTS) III has become the research-standard analytical tool for anaerobic batch fermentation testing. The instrument can also be used for biochemical hydrogen potential analysis. Automated, fully integrated and with easy access to sampling, analysis, recording and report generation, AMPTS III can house 18 glass reactors for tests. These include biochemical methane potential (BMP) tests, anaerobic biodegradability studies, specific methanogenic activity (SMA) assays and residual gas potential (RGP) analyses on digested slurry. AMPTS III lets you determine the optimal retention time and mix of substrates for co-digestion, screen proper pre-treatment methods and evaluate the need for additives.

Photograph of AMPTS III for BMP anerobic testing
Photo of AMPTS II light BMP anaerobic testing system


– simplify the selection & pricing of substrates

The AMPTS III Light is a sister product of the AMPTS III. It is the instrument of choice for process engineers and plant operators when selecting and pricing substrates in biogas plants. The instrument is used for analysing, with up to nine test vials, biochemical methane potential (BMP), residual gas potential (RGP) as well as anaerobic biodegradability and specific methanogenic activity (SMA) assays. All of this is performed with easy access to sampling, analysis, recording and report generation fully integrated and automated.


Standardized protocol for biohydrogen potential

Article title: “A standardized biohydrogen potential protocol: An international round robin test approach”

Authors: Julián Carrillo-Reyes, et al.

International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, (2019) 44, 26237 -26247

AMPTS® II was introduced in the first standardized protocol validated internationally to accurately assess the biohydrogen potential (BHP). Compulsory elements for performing and validating the BHP test results were defined. They include the minimal number of replicates, the request to carry out blank and positive control assays, details on BHP calculation together with recommendations for inoculum characteristics, substrate preparation, test setup. The developed protocol provides a tool for inter-laboratory studies and reliable comparisons of results.


Standardized protocol for determination of biohydrogen potential

Article title: “Standardized protocol for determination of biohydrogen potential”

Authors: Julián Carrillo-Reyes, et al.

MethodsX 7 (2020), 100754

AMPTS® II was recommended in the first validated internationally validated protocol, evaluated by 8 independent laboratories from 5 different countries, to assess the biohydrogen potential.


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