Enhancement of mass transfer characteristics and phenanthrene degradation in a two-phase partitioning bioreactor equipped with internal static mixers
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Oxygen and substrate supply have always been considered physical constraints for the performance and operation of two-phase partitioning bioreactors (TPPB), widely used for the degradation of hydrophobic substrates. In this regard, the potential advantages of static mixers in upgrading the oxygen transfer and liquid-liquid dispersions in TPPB have been highlighted. In the present paper, the concomitant influence of static mixers on the gas-liquid mass transfer coefficient kLa and on substrate bioavailability was examined in TPPB. The static method based on conventional forms was developed to estimate the oxygen volumetric mass transfer coefficient. Over a broad range of liquid and air flow rates, the presence of static mixers was found to significantly enhance kLa relative to a mixer-free mode of operation. For identical conditions, static mixers improved the kLa threefold. In the presence of external aeration supply, the boost in the kLa was associated with an increase of 16% in the phenanthrene biodegradation rate due to bubble break up accomplished by the static mixers. On the other hand, static mixers were efficient in enhancing substrate bioavailability by improving the liquid-liquid interfacial area. This effect was reflected by a threefold increase in the degradation rate in the bioreactors with no external supply of air when equipped with static mixers.
KeywordsTPPB bioreactors degradation static mixers mass transfer liquid-liquid dispersion
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