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Airlift Bioreactor for Biological Applications with Microbubble Mediated Transport ProcessesAirlift bioreactors can provide an attractive alternative to stirred tanks, particularly for bioprocesses with gaseous reactants or products. Frequently, however, they are susceptible to being limited by gas-liquid mass transfer and by poor mixing of the liquid phase, particularly when they are operating at high cell densities. In this work we use CFD modelling to show that microbubbles generated by fluidic oscillation can provide an effective, low energy means of achieving high interfacial area for mass transfer and improved liquid circulation for mixing. The results show that when the diameter of the microbubbles exceeded 200 μm, the “downcomer” region, which is equivalent to about 60 % of overall volume of the reactor, is free from gas bubbles. The results also demonstrate that the use of microbubbles not only increases surface area to volume ratio, but also increases mixing efficiency through increasing the liquid velocity circulation around the draft tube. In addition, the depth of downward penetration of the microbubbles into the downcomer increases with decreasing bubbles size due to a greater downward drag force compared to the buoyancy force. The simulated results indicate that the volume of dead zone increases as the height of diffuser location is increased. We therefore hypothesise that poor gas bubble distribution due to the improper location of the diffuser may have a markedly deleterious effect on the performance of the bioreactor used in this work.
Carbon dioxide rich microbubble acceleration of biogas production in anaerobic digestionThis paper addresses the use of anaerobic bacteria to convert carbon dioxide to biomethane as part of the biodegradation process of organic waste. The current study utilises gaslift bioreactors with microbubbles generated by fluidic oscillation to strip the methane produced in the gaslift bioreactor. Removal of methane makes its formation thermodynamically more favourable. In addition, intermittent sparging of microbubbles can prevent thermal stratification, maintain uniformity of the pH and increase the intimate contact between the feed and microbial culture with lower energy requirements than traditional mixing. A gaslift bioreactor with microbubble sparging has been implemented experimentally, using a range of carrier gas, culminating in pure carbon dioxide, in the anaerobic digestion process. The results obtained from the experiments show that the methane production rate is approximately doubled with pure carbon dioxide as the carrier gas for intermittent microbubble sparging.