, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 187-193

Oxygen transfer characteristics of a centrifugal, packed-bed reactor during viscous xanthan fermentation

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The oxygen transfer properties of a novel, centrifugal, packed-bed reactor (CPBR) during viscous xanthan fermentation were determined with respect to the effects of the arrangement of the centrifugal, packed bed (CPB) and the recirculation loop (RL). Characterized by the maximum volumetric transfer coefficient (k L a) in xanthan broth, the aeration efficiency of CPBR was compared to those in stirred-tank reactors (STR) equipped with disc turbines (DT) or marine propellers (MP), and to that in a water-in-oil emulsion (WIO). As expected, STR-WIO showed the highest k L a (0.038 s–1 at 2%) among all systems studied due to reduced broth viscosity; however, practical difficulties exist in product recovery. It was found that, at 3.5% xanthan the k L a in CPBR (0.018 s–1) was higher than that of STR (0.005 s–1) and close to that of STR-WIO (0.020 s–1), indicating improved oxygen transfer at such a xanthan concentration. The exterior baffles along the rotating fibrous matrix offer additional agitation in the viscous broth. A gas-continuous arrangement, in which the CPB was kept above the broth, was able to elevate k L a to 0.023 s–1, higher than that of STR-WIO. The external RL operated by a peristaltic pump was found to play an important role in CPBR aeration by providing better gas–liquid contact. With the improved oxygen transfer efficiency in CPBR at high xanthan concentrations, the CPBR system is practically the preferred system for xanthan fermentation. The characteristic roles of CPB arrangement and the RL should be considered primarily during scale-up operation.