Acetate reduction is an alternative digestion process to convert organic waste into ethanol. Using acetate for fuel ethanol production offers the opportunity to use organic waste materials instead of sugar-containing feedstock. Methanogenesis, however, competes with acetate reduction for acetate and hydrogen and lowers the final efficiency. The aim of this research is to selectively inhibit methanogenesis and to enhance acetate reduction. Acetate reduction was stimulated in batch tests at pH between 4.5 and 8 and at pH 6 with and without thermal pre-treatment. It was found that methanogenesis was selectively inhibited while acetate reduction was enhanced after thermal pre-treatment incubated at pH 6. Initially the acetate reduction yielded 7.7 +/- 3.2 mM ethanol with an efficiency of 60.2 +/- 8.7%. but later on it was consumed to form 7.02 +/- 0.85 mM n-butyrate with an efficiency of 76.2 +/- 14.0%. it was the first time demonstrated that n-butyrate can be produced by mixed cultures from only acetate and hydrogen. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.