Biohydrogen production from dark fermentation of lignocellulosic materials represents a huge potential in terms of renewable energy exploitation. However, the low hydrogen yield is currently hindering its development on industrial scale. This study reviewed various technologies that have been investigated for enhancing dark fermentative biohydrogen production. The pre-treatment technologies can be classified based on their applications as inoculum or substrates pre-treatment or they can be categorised into physical, chemical, physicochemical and biological based on the techniques used. From the different technologies reviewed, heat and acid pre-treatments are the most commonly studied technologies for both substrates and inoculum pre-treatment. Nevertheless, these two technologies need not necessarily be the most suitable since across different studies, a wide array of other emerging techniques as well as combined technologies have yielded positive findings. To date, there exists no perfect technology for either inoculum or substrate pre-treatment. Although the aim of inoculum pre-treatment is to suppress H2-consumers and enrich H2-producers, many sporulating H2-consumers survive the pre-treatment while some non-spore H2-producers are inhibited. Besides, several inoculum pre-treatment techniques are not effective in the long run and repeated pre-treatment may be required for continuous suppression of H2-consumers and sustained biohydrogen production. Furthermore, many technologies employed for substrates pre-treatment may yield inhibitory compounds that can eventually decrease biohydrogen production. Consequently, much research needs to be done to find out the best technology for both substrates and inoculum pre-treatment while also taking into consideration the energetic, economic and technical feasibility of implementing such a process on an industrial scale.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.