Inhibitory effects of furfural and vanillin on two-stage gaseous biofuel fermentation

Chihe Sun, Ao Xia, Qiang Liao, Xiaobo Guo, Qian Fu, Yun Huang, Xun Zhu, Lingkan Ding, Cheng Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Pre-treatment of biomass prior to fermentation can effectively boost gaseous biofuel production. However, inhibitors including furfural and vanillin can be generated from the hydrolysis of biomass such as lignocellulosic biomass and algae. In this study, the inhibitory effects of furfural and vanillin on two-stage fermentative hydrogen and methane co-production were assessed. The results showed that vanillin exhibited stronger inhibition than furfural under the same concentration. In first stage hydrogen fermentation, the minimum hydrogen yield of 188.5 mL/gglucose and hydrogen production rate of 3.8 mL/gglucose/h were obtained from 4 g/L vanillin addition, with the maximum delay of fermentation peak time (more than 48 h). Furfural could be completely degraded to furfuralcohol within 12–48 h fermentation. In contrast, around 1.5%–53.5% of vanillin remained unconverted after 96 h fermentation. Two-stage process significantly mitigated the inhibition on subsequent methane production. Compared with direct methane fermentation, the methane yields increased by 105%–263%, whereas the methane production rate increased by 78.5%–204%. Inhibitors would suppress the production of volatile fatty acids and alter the metabolic pathways, resulting in a large deviation on the chemical oxygen demand balance (from –63.9% to –17.7%). The final energy conversion efficiency (from 31% to 89%) also decreased with increasing inhibitor concentration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-359
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Sep 15 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by the National Science Foundation for Young Scientists of China (No. 51606021), the State Key Program of National Natural Science of China (No. 51836001), the Venture & Innovation Support Program for Chongqing Overseas Returnees (No. cx2017019), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Nos. 2018CDYJSY0055 , 2018CDXYDL0001 ), and the Young Elite Scientists Sponsorship Program by CAST ( 2018QNRC001 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019


  • Biohydrogen
  • Biomethane
  • Fermentation
  • Furfural
  • Inhibitory effect
  • Vanillin


Dive into the research topics of 'Inhibitory effects of furfural and vanillin on two-stage gaseous biofuel fermentation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this