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Optimal biocatalyst loading in a fixed bed

V. Tortoriello
G. B. DeLancey
Journal / Anthology

Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology
Year: 2007
Volume: 34
Issue: 7
Page range: 475-481

The optimal distribution of biocatalyst in a fixed bed operating at steady state was determined to minimize the length of the bed for a fixed conversion of 95%. The distribution in terms of the biocatalyst loading on an inert support depends upon the axial distance from the bed entrance (continuous solution) as well as a set of dimensionless parameters that reflect the bed geometry, the bulk flow, reaction kinetics and diffusional characteristics. A mathematical model of the system with the following features was used to obtain the results: (1) convective mass transfer and dispersion in the bulk phase; (2) mass transfer from the bulk phase to the surface of the catalyst particle; and (3) simultaneous diffusion and chemical reaction in the catalyst particle with Michaelis–Menton kinetics and a reliable diffusion model (Zhao and DeLancey in Biotechnol Bioeng 64:434–441, 1999, 2000). The solution to the mathematical model was obtained with Mathematica utilizing the Runge Kutta 4–5 method. The dimensionless length resulting from the continuous solution was compared with the optimal length restricted to a uniform or constant cell loading across the entire bed. The maximum difference in the dimensionless length between the continuous and uniform solutions was determined to be 6.5%. The model was applied to published conversion data for the continuous production of ethanol that included cell loading (Taylor et al. in Biotechnol Prog 15:740–751, 2002). The data indicated a minimum production cost at a catalyst loading within 10% of the optimum predicted by the mathematical model. The production rate versus cell loading in most cases displayed a sufficiently broad optimum that the same (non-optimal) rate could be obtained at a significantly smaller loading such as a rate at 80% loading being equal to the rate at 20% loading. These results are particularly important because of the renewed interest in ethanol production (Novozymes and BBI International, Fuel ethanol: a technological evolution, 2004).

*Engineering > Chemical Engineering

biocatalyst, cell loading, diffusion, optimization, uniform, continuous, mathematical model