Hydrogen Production from the Fermentation of Corn Stover Biomass Pretreated with a Steam-Explosion Process

Rohit Datar, Jie Huang, Pin-Ching Maness, Ali Mohagheghi, Stefan Czernik, Esteban Chornet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lignocellulosic biomass contains 70-80% carbohydrates and could serve as the ideal feedstock for fermentative hydrogen production. We conducted the pretreatment of corn stover using a steam-explosion process and studied its fermentability for hydrogen production. Using natural inoculant obtained from the heated sludge of a local wastewater treatment plant, we demonstrated that the indigenous microbes were capable of efficiently fermenting the aqueous hydrolyzate derived from the hemicellulose fraction of the steam-pretreated corn stover with and without acid during pretreatment. Biogas contained equal amounts of hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The carbon mass balance is approximately 84%, with acetic and butyric acids as the major carbon byproducts along with carbon dioxide. Hydrogen molar yields of 2.84 and 3.0 were obtained using the mixed sugars present in the hydrolyzate derived from neutral and acidic steam explosion, respectively. These findings verify that hemicellulose from corn stover could be a suitable feedstock for hydrogen production via dark fermentation.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)932-939
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2007

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-270-41877


  • biological hydrogen production
  • biomass fermentation
  • cellulose
  • hemicellulose
  • steam explosion


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