Nyberg M, Heidorn T, Lindblad P
J. Biotechnol. 215 (-) 35-43 [2015-12-10; online 2015-08-29]
Nitrogenase based hydrogen production was examined in a ΔhupW strain of the filamentous heterocystous cyanobacterium Nostoc PCC 7120, i.e., cells lacking the last step in the maturation system of the large subunit of the uptake hydrogenase and as a consequence with a non-functional uptake hydrogenase. The cells were grown in a developed flat panel photobioreactor system with 3.0L culture volume either aerobically (air) or anaerobically (Ar or 80% N2/20% Ar) and illuminated with a mixture of red and white LED. Aerobic growth of the ΔhupW strain of Nostoc PCC 7120 at 44μmolar photons m(-2)s(-1) PAR gave the highest hydrogen production of 0.7mL H2 L(-1)h(-1), 0.53mmol H2 mg chlorophyll a(-1)h(-1), and a light energy conversion efficiency of 1.2%. Anaerobic growth using 100% argon showed a maximal hydrogen production of 1.7mLL(-1)h(-1), 0.85mmol per mg chlorophyll a(-1) h(-1), and a light energy conversion efficiency of 2.7%. Altering between argon/N2 (20/80) and 100% argon phases resulted in a maximal hydrogen production at hour 128 (100% argon phase) with 6.2mL H2L(-1)h(-1), 0.71mL H2 mg chlorophyll a(-1)h(-1), and a light energy efficiency conversion of 4.0%. The highest buildup of hydrogen gas observed was 6.89% H2 (100% argon phase) of the total photobioreactor system with a maximal production of 4.85mL H2 L(-1)h(-1). The present study clearly demonstrates the potential to use purpose design cyanobacteria in developed flat panel photobioreactor systems for the direct production of the solar fuel hydrogen. Further improvements in the strain used, environmental conditions employed, and growth, production and collection systems used, are needed before a sustainable and economical cyanobacterial based hydrogen production can be realized.