Experiments in Fluids

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 383–392 | Cite as

Semi-automatic image analysis methodology for the segmentation of bubbles and drops in complex dispersions occurring in bioreactors

  • B. Taboada
  • L. Vega-Alvarado
  • M. S. Córdova-Aguilar
  • E. Galindo
  • G. CorkidiEmail author
Research Article


Characterization of multiphase systems occurring in fermentation processes is a time-consuming and tedious process when manual methods are used. This work describes a new semi-automatic methodology for the on-line assessment of diameters of oil drops and air bubbles occurring in a complex simulated fermentation broth. High-quality digital images were obtained from the interior of a mechanically stirred tank. These images were pre-processed to find segments of edges belonging to the objects of interest. The contours of air bubbles and oil drops were then reconstructed using an improved Hough transform algorithm which was tested in two, three and four-phase simulated fermentation model systems. The results were compared against those obtained manually by a trained observer, showing no significant statistical differences. The method was able to reduce the total processing time for the measurements of bubbles and drops in different systems by 21–50% and the manual intervention time for the segmentation procedure by 80–100%.


Hough transform Multiphase dispersion Segmentation Image analysis Bubbles Drops 



This work was partially supported by the ‘Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología’ (CONACYT, grant U44098-Z) and the National University of Mexico (DGAPA-UNAM, grant IN-117202). The authors thank Arturo Ocadiz for computer support and Shirley Ainsworth for bibliographic assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Taboada
    • 1
  • L. Vega-Alvarado
    • 1
  • M. S. Córdova-Aguilar
    • 2
  • E. Galindo
    • 2
  • G. Corkidi
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Image Analysis Laboratory, Centro de Ciencias Aplicadas y Desarrollo TecnológicoUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCuernavacaMexico
  2. 2.Instituto de BiotecnologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCuernavacaMexico

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