Selective short-chain carboxylates production: A review of control mechanisms to direct mixed culture fermentations

D. Arslan, K.J.J. Steinbusch, L. Diels, H.V.M. Hamelers, D.P.B.T.B. Strik, C.J.N. Buisman, H. De Wever*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


Anaerobic digestion of organic residual streams can be directed to produce carboxylates such as acetate, propionate, and n-butyrate, which can be either directly used in industry or converted into other valuable compounds. This paper reviews the studies working with mixed culture conversion of organic substrates toward carboxylates. It draws connections between standard fermentation parameters and the carboxylate product concentrations and composition. The use of more concentrated carbohydrate-rich substrates, at longer residence times and at neutral pH ranges, stimulates total acid production. When increasing pH to the neutral range, acetate and propionate fractions are elevated. High propionate concentrations and fractions are infrequently reported and mainly appear on high-protein-containing feedstock. High n-butyrate fraction <70% is usually found when pH > 6, at longer retention times or organic loading rates, under CO2 atmosphere or on substrates with high lactate concentrations. The review concludes with prospects for further developments related to the carboxylate platform.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-634
JournalCritical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Biomass conversion
  • carboxylates
  • mixed culture fermentation
  • operational parameters
  • organic waste
  • volatile fatty acids


Dive into the research topics of 'Selective short-chain carboxylates production: A review of control mechanisms to direct mixed culture fermentations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this