Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Department name when degree awarded

Biological and Irrigation Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Conly L. Hansen


Conly L. Hansen


Carl S. Hansen


Sridhar Viamajala


Hydrogen production by means of anaerobic fermentation was researched utilizing three different substrates. Synthetic wastewater, dairy manure, and cheese whey were combined together at different concentrations under batch anaerobic conditions to determine the optimal hydrogen producing potential and waste treatment of each. Cheese whey at a concentration of 55% was combined with dairy manure at a concentration of 45% to produce 1.53 liters of hydrogen per liter of substrate. These results are significant because the control, synthetic wastewater, which was a glucose-based substrate, produced less hydrogen, 1.34 liters per liter of substrate, than the mixture of cheese whey and dairy manure. These findings indicate that cheese whey and dairy manure, which are of little value, have potential to produce clean combusting hydrogen fuel.

The effluent from the anaerobic hydrogen fermentations was then placed into a second continuous-fed reactor as part of a two-phase anaerobic digestion system. This system was designed to produce hydrogen and methane for a mixture of approximately 10% hydrogen. The two-stage process also further treated the synthetic wastewater, dairy manure, and cheese whey. The two-phase anaerobic methanogenic reactor was shown to produce more methane in the second phase (56 L IBR anaerobic digester), 1.36 mL per minute per liter substrate, as compared to the single-phase anaerobic reactor (56 L IBR), which produced 1.22 mL per minute per liter substrate.

In general, this research has suggested that agricultural and food processing wastes provide the needed nutrients for hydrogen production and that a two-phase anaerobic digestion system is ideally set up to produce hydrogen-methane mixtures while treating wastes for discharge into the environment.