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Enhanced production of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) in a novel airlift reactor with in situ cell retention using Azohydromonas australica

  • Fermentation, Cell Culture and Bioengineering
  • Published:
Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology


Economic production of biodegradable plastics is a challenge particularly because of high substrate and energy cost inputs for its production. Research efforts are being directed towards innovations to minimize both of the above costs to economize polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) production. A novel airlift reactor (ALR) with outer aeration and internal settling was utilized in this investigation. Although it featured no power consumption for agitation, it facilitated increased oxygen transfer rate and better cell retention than stirred tank reactor (STR), thereby resulting in enhanced PHB productivity. ALR with in situ cell retention demonstrated a significant improvement in biomass concentration and biopolymer accumulation. The total PHB production rate, specific biomass, and product yield in the ALR were observed to be 0.84 g/h, 0.43 g/g, and 0.32 g/g, respectively. The studies revealed that the volumetric oxygen mass transfer rate and mixing time for ALR were 0.016 s−1 and 3.73 s, respectively, at 2.0 vvm as compared with corresponding values of 0.005 s−1 and 4.95 s, respectively, in STR. This demonstrated that ALR has better oxygen mass transfer and mixing efficiency than STR. Hence, ALR with cell retention would serve as a better bioreactor design for economic biopolymer production than STR, particularly due to its lower cost of operation and simplicity along with its enhanced oxygen and heat transfer rates.

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The senior research fellowship (SRF) awarded by The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Govt. of India, New Delhi for project execution is gratefully acknowledged by one of the authors (G.G.).

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Correspondence to Ashok K. Srivastava.

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Gahlawat, G., Sengupta, B. & Srivastava, A.K. Enhanced production of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) in a novel airlift reactor with in situ cell retention using Azohydromonas australica . J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol 39, 1377–1384 (2012).

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