The Potential of Dark Fermentative Bio-hydrogen Production from Biowaste Effluents in South Africa

Patrick Sekoai, Michael Olawale Daramola


Dark fermentation process technology could play an essential role towards the implementation of clean and sustainable energy markets, especially when it is produced from cost-effective processes. In recent years, South Africa has been experiencing a huge crisis in waste disposal due to the high level of urbanization and industrialization in the country. Landfills and incinerators are the most common waste disposal methods and are reported to have serious detrimental effect on the environment. However, biowaste materials of agricultural, municipal, and industrial effluents are highly considered as suitable substrates for dark fermentative biohydrogen production due to their accessibility and nutritional content. In 2012, 22.9 million tons of biowaste (agricultural, municipal, and industrial effluents) was produced in South Africa and the amount increased to 26.2 million tons in 2014. Over the next decades in South Africa, an increase of 11 million tons/year has been predicted due to high level of infrastructure development in the country. This review, therefore, provides an outlook of South Africa’s energy sector and discusses the need for intensification of alternative energy resources in order to reduce the country’s reliance on coal energy along with environmental pollution. It evaluates the feasibility of using biowaste effluents for dark fermentative biohydrogen production processes. And assesses the environmental consequences associated with their disposal. It examines the state-of-the-art and advancements in biohydrogen process infrastructure in South Africa.  Finally, it reviews the challenges facing dark fermentative biohydrogen scale-up studies and recent advances used to improve its process yields from these feedstocks.

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Dark fermentation; Biowaste effluents; Renewable energy; South Africa; Biohydrogen.

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