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Abstract

The quantitative description of an airlift bioreactor, in which aerobic biodegradation limited by carbonaceous substrate and oxygen dissolved in a liquid takes place, is presented. This process is described by the double-substrate kinetics. Mathematical models based on the assumption of plug flow and dispersion flow of liquid through the riser and the downcomer in the reactor were proposed. Calculations were performed for two representative hydrodynamic regimes of reactor operation, i.e. with the presence of gas bubbles only within the riser and for complete gas circulation. The analysis aimed at how the choice of a mathematical model of the process would enable detecting the theoretical occurrence of oxygen deficiency in the airlift reactor. It was demonstrated that the simplification of numerical calculations by assuming the “plug flow” model instead of dispersion with high Péclet numbers posed a risk of improper evaluation of the presence of oxygen deficiency zones. Conclusions related to apparatusmodelling and process design were drawn on the basis of the results obtained. The paper is a continuation of an earlier publication (Grzywacz, 2012a) where an analysis of single-substrate models of the airlift reactor was presented.
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Abstract

This paper presents a method of describing an airlift bioreactor, in which biodegradation of a carbonaceous substrate described by single-substrate kinetics takes place. Eight mathematical models based on the assumption of liquid plug flow and axial dispersion flow through the riser and the downcomer in the reactor were proposed. Additionally, the impact of degassing zone with assumed complete mixing on the obtained results was analyzed. Calculations were performed for two representative hydrodynamic regimes of reactor operation, i.e. with the presence of gas bubbles only within the riser and for complete gas circulation. The conclusions related to the apparatus design and process performance under sufficient aeration of the reaction mixture were drawn on the basis of the obtained results.
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