Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Faculty Research


Enhancing Oxygen Transfer in Surface-aerated Bioreactors by Stable Foams

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Publication Date

Fall 1990


To enhance oxygen transfer in surface-aeration bioreactors, stabilized foams were generated to increase the gas-liquid interfacial area by slowly introducing coarse bubbles into media containing fetal bovine serum. The bubble sparging rates were so low (i.e., 20 and 50 mL/h) that the contribution to oxygen transfer from these bubbles was due to foaming instead of bubbling. Furthermore, no physical cell damage caused by bubble sparging was observed. Oxygen transfer coefficients, kLa, in the bioreactors were measured in cell-free media. Without the foam-stabilizing agent (i.e., serum), no appreciable change in kLa was observed due to the bubble sparging. On the other hand, with serum, kLa increased with increasing serum content and bubble sparging rate and corresponded well with the degree of foaming. With 10% fetal bovine serum and a bubble sparging rate of 50 mL/h, kLa increased approximately 90% compared with no foaming. The enhancing effect of foam on oxygen transfer in surface aeration bioreactors has been further demonstrated with hybridoma cultures simultaneously grown in three identical bioreactors with and without stabilized foams.





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