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Effect of tungsten and selenium on C1 gas bioconversion by an enriched anaerobic sludge and microbial community analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Article number126105
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


The effect of trace metals, namely tungsten and selenium, on the production of acids and alcohols through gas fermentation by a CO-enriched anaerobic sludge in a continuous gas-fed bioreactor was investigated. The CO-enriched sludge was first supplied with a tungsten-deficient medium (containing selenium) and in a next assay, a selenium-deficient medium (containing tungsten) was fed to the bioreactor, at a CO gas flow rate of 10 mL/min. In the absence of tungsten (tungstate), an initial pH of 6.2 followed by a pH decrease to 4.9 yielded 7.34 g/L acetic acid as the major acid during the high pH period. Subsequently, bioconversion of the acids at a lower pH of 4.9 yielded only 1.85 g/L ethanol and 1.2 g/L butanol in the absence of tungsten (tungstate). A similar follow up assay in the same bioreactor with two consecutive periods at different pH values (i.e., 6.2 and 4.9) with a selenium deficient medium yielded 6.6 g/L acetic acid at pH 6.2 and 4 g/L ethanol as well as 1.88 g/L butanol at pH 4.9. The results from the microbial community analysis showed that the only known CO fixing microorganism able to produce alcohols detected in the bioreactor was Clostridium autoethanogenum, both in the tungsten and the selenium deprived media, although that species has so far not been reported to be able to produce butanol. No other solventogenic acetogen was detected.


  • Acetic acid, Butanol, Carbon dioxide, Carbon monoxide, Clostridium autoethanogenum, Ethanol

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Field of science, Statistics Finland