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Types of Fermentor (Bioreactor)

Jul 22, 2019

Types of Fermentor (Bioreactor)


The fermentor (bioreactor) types used extensively in industries are the stirred tank fermentor, airlift fermentor, and bubble column fermentor.

(i) Stirred Tank Fermentor:

Stirred tank fermentors consists of a cylindrical vessel with a motor driven central saft that supports one or more impellers.

(ii) Airlift Fermentor:

In airlift fermentor (Fig. 39.2) the liquid culture volume of the vessel is divided into two interconnected zones by means of a baffle or draft tube. Only one of the two zones is sparged with air or other gas and this sparged zone is known as the riser.

The other zone that receives no gas is called down-comer. The bulk density of the gas-liquid dispersion in the gas-sparged riser tends to be lower than the bulk density in the down-comer, consequently the dispersion flows up in the riser zone and down-flow occurs in the down-comer.

Types of Fermentor (Bioreactor)


Airlift fermentors are highly energy-efficient and are often used in large-scale manufacture of biopharmaceutical proteins obtained from fragile animal cells. Heat and mass transfer capabilities of airlift reactors are at least as good as those of other systems, and airlift reactors are more effective in suspending solids than are bubble column fermentors.

All performance characteristics of airlift -fermentor are related ultimately to the gas injection rate and the resulting rate of liquid circulation. Usually, the rate of liquid circulation increases with the square root of the height of the airlift device.

Because the liquid circulation is driven by the gas hold-up difference between the riser and the down-comer, circulation is enhanced if there is little or no gas in the down-comer. All the gas in the down-comer comes from being entrained in with the liquid as it flows into the down-comer from the riser near the top of the reactor.

(iii) Bubble Column Fermentor:

A bubble column fermentor (Fig. 39.3) is usually cylindrical with an aspect (height-to-diameter) ratio of 4-6. Gas is sparged at the base of the column through perforated pipes, perforated plates, or sintered glass or metal micro-porous spargers.

O2transfer, mixing and other performance factors are influenced mainly by the gas flow rate and the rheological properties of the fluid. Internal devices such as horizontal perforated plates, vertical baffles and corrugated sheet packing’s may be placed in the vessel to improve mass transfer and modify the basic design.

The column diameter does not affect its behaviour so long as the diameter exceeds 0.1 m. One exception is the axial mixing performance. For a given gas flow rate, the mixing improves with increasing vessel diameter. Mass and heat transfer and the prevailing shear rate increase as gas flow rate is increased.

Types of Fermentor (Bioreactor)2

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