Gas-liquid mass transfer in an up-flow cocurrent packed-bed biofilm reactor

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    Gas-liquid mass transfer was investigated in an up-flow cocurrent packed-bed biofilm reactor. In aerobic processes gas-liquid mass transfer can be considered as a key operational parameter as well as in reactor scale-up. The present paper investigates the influence of the liquid phase mixing in the determination of the volumetric gas-liquid mass transfer coefficient (kLa) coefficient. Residence time distribution (RTD) experiments were performed in the reactor to determine the flow pattern of the liquid phase and to model mathematically the liquid phase mixing. The mathematical model derived from RTD experiments was used to evaluate the influence of the liquid mixing on the experimental estimation of the (kLa) in this reactor type. The methods used to estimate the kLa coefficient were: (i) dynamic gassing-out, (ii) sulphite method, and (iii) in-process estimation through biological conversion obtained in the reactor. The use of standard chemical engineering correlations to determine the kLa in this type of bioreactors is assessed. Experimental and modelling results show how relevant can be to take into consideration the liquid phase mixing in the calculations of the most-used methods for the estimation of kLa coefficient. kLa coefficient was found to be strongly heterogeneous along the reactor vertical axis. The value of the kLa coefficient for the packed-bed section ranged 0.01-0.12 s-1. A preliminary correlation was established for up-flow cocurrent packed-bed biofilm reactors as a function of gas superficial velocity. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)188-196
    JournalBiochemical Engineering Journal
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2006


    • Biofilm reactor
    • Flow model
    • Gas-liquid mass transfer
    • Mathematical modelling
    • Nitrification
    • Packed-bed bioreactors


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