Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Faculty Research


Effect of the Interfacial Surfactant Layer on Oxygen Transfer Through the Oil/water Phase Boundary in Perfluorocarbon Emulsions

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Fall 2004


The effect of interfacial surfactant molecules on oxygen transfer through oil/water phase boundary has been studied in FlurO(2) (TM) emulsions, i.e., perfluorocarbon (PFC) emulsions developed as oxygen carriers in cell culture. Measurements of oxygen permeability were made with a polarographic oxygen electrode in pure PFCs and in emulsions with various PFC volume fractions. Comparison of the experimental results with the theoretically derived values of relative oxygen permeability clearly indicates that the mass transfer resistance caused by the interfacial surfactant layer in PFC emulsions is insignificant. Therefore, oxygen dissolved in the enclosed PFC phase is readily available to cells growing in the aqueous media and FlurO(2) emulsions with very fine emulsion particles (< 0.2 microm) can be used to effectively enhance gas/liquid interfacial oxygen transfer in bioreactors. The inadequacy in describing mass transfer in heterogeneous systems, such as the PFC emulsions, by conventional concentration-based oxygen diffusion coefficients has also been discussed.





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