There is strong evidence in the literature supporting the existence of significant mass transfer limitations on the kinetics of exogenous H(2) consumption by methanogens. The half saturation constant for H (2) uptake by a mixed-culture, CH(4) producing enrichment was measured using an experimental protocol that avoided internal mass transfer limitations. The value obtained was two orders of magnitude smaller than any other previously reported. A mathematical model for acetogenic syntrophic associations was developed to check the capacity of H(2) as electron transporter between syntrophic partners. It was found that H(2) diffusion could account for the rate of transport of electrons between the syntrophic microorganisms and that formate is not a necessary intermediate. The possibility that formate may be an intermediate in this system was not ruled out. A Monod-type kinetic equation was modified to include the observed H(2) threshold effect. This modified equation was used to predict the CH(4)-production rate in a batch-fed digester. The results show that the external and internal H(2) pools are kinetically coupled.
(c) 1992 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.