Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Faculty Research


The Effects of Cells on Oxygen Transfer in Bioreactors: Physical Presence of Cells as Solid Particles

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Publication Date

Fall 1994


Cells may affect oxygen transfer rates by three mechanisms: respiration of cells accumulated at the gas/liquid interface, physical presence of cells as solid particles, and modification of the medium by cells. These effects were studied experimentally in bubble-aerated bioreactors using baker's yeast at different cell concentrations, agitation speeds, aeration rates, and specific oxygen uptake rates. The overall effect of cells was to enhance oxygen transfer rates. The physical presence of cells as solid particles was found to retard oxygen transfer, presumably due to the lower oxygen permeability in the cell layer accumulated near the bubble surfaces. Cell respiration and medium modification, on the other hand, enhanced oxygen transfer rates. The retardation by nonrespiring cells and the enhancement due to cell respiration were found stronger at higher agitation speeds and lower aeration rates employed. This was attributed to the higher interfacial cell accumulation associated with the smaller bubbles produced under these conditions in the systems studied.





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