You are on page 1of 19

FACTORS AFFECTING THE VALUES OF

VOLUMETRIC MASS TRANSFER COEFFICIENTS (k


L
a)
IN FERMENTATION SYSTEMS
FACTORS AFFECTING THE VALUES OF MASS TRANSFER COEFFICIENTS
IN FERMENTATION SYSTEMS
Various operating parameters and physico-chemical properties of
fermentation broth affects mass transfer rate, which in turn show effect
on k
L
a.
Factors affecting the value of k
L
a are:
1. Bubble size
2.Gas Hold-up
3.Gas Velocity
4.Type of gas sparger
5.Type of agitation
6. Power input to agitator
7.Temperature
8.Pressure
9. Antifoaming agents
10. Presence of cells
11. Surface active solutes
1.Bubble size
Bubble size has great effect on k
L
a as the gas is sparged discretely
into the fermentation broth in the form of small bubbles.
Small bubbles have high interfacial area.
No.of bubbles Bubble volume
(mm
3
)
Bubble
Diameter (mm)
Surface Area
(mm
2
)
Increase in
area (%)
1 4.19 2 12.57 -
2 2X2.1 1.59 2X7.91 26.0
3 3X1.4 1.39 3X6.0 44.2
Effect of bubble size on interfacial area and various other parameters
Bubble
Dia
a k
L
Bubble
rise
velocity
Gas Hold-
up
Internal re-
circulation
Bubble
rigidity
Big Small High High Less Yes No
Small High Small Low High No Yes
2. Gas Hold-up
Gas Hold-up is the volume fraction of the gas held up in the total volume
comprising the liquid and the held-up gas together.
c= V
G
/(V
G
+V
L
) = V
G
/V
Higher values of c indicates higher amount of gas held up in the system.

Smaller bubbles (d
B
<<1mm) can be a nuisance in fermenters.

Very small bubbles will transfer the oxygen content in them to the liquid
broth quickly, and what is remaining is only nitrogen which does not
contribute any thing, except showing higher gas hold-up.
Though gas hold-up may not be directly proportional to the mass transfer
rates, kLa values decrease with decreasing bubble diameter less than 2
mm.
3. Gas Velocity
The Superficial gas velocity (u
G
) is the linear velocity of gas obtained by
dividing the volumetric flow rate of the gas with the cross-sectional area of
vessel.
Mass transfer rates increases with u
G
as:

If gas flow rate is very high, it may not allow the oxygen to dissolve in the
liquid, and hence may escape in the outlet.
In agitated vessels, the effect is compounded by the agitator speed also.
For higher gas flow rates, the gas-liquid contact is poor and most of the gas
is unutilized, which results impeller flooding.
Impeller flooding is the situation, where the gas is being supplied to the
system at a rate which the impeller is not able to disperse.

To over come this, either gas flow rate should be reduced or the agitator
speed is to be increased.
2 0
7 0
3
10 2
.
G
.
L
u
V
P
X a k |
.
|

\
|
=

4. Type of Gas Sparger


The effect of spargers on mass transfer has not been studied
extensively.
Hassan and Robinson (1977) reported that sparger design did not
have much effect on gas-liquid dispersion in aerated aqueous phases.
5. Type of Agitator
Type of agitator and agitator design for effective mixing shows great
effect on mass transfer rates.
Types of agitators used for gas-liquid mass transfer are:
1. Propeller
2. Turbine - better gas-liquid contacting
3. Paddle
4. Vaned discs - better gas-liquid contacting
5. Anchor -highly viscous liquids and slurries
6. Helical Screws -highly viscous semi-solid masses.
Types of Agitators
Mixing
patterns
6. Power input to Agitators
The effect of power input on a as:



The interfacial area varies as : (P/V)
0.4
.
The power input is also related to agitator speed through the power
number (N
P
) as:
N
P
= P/( n
3
D
i
5
) or P = N
P
n
3
D
i
5
The dependence of power number on the agitator speed varies based on
the type of flow.

P o n
2
for laminar regime
P o n
3
for turbulent regime

5 0
6 0
2 0
4 0
44 1
.
t
.
L
.
L
.
u
u V
P
. a
(

(
(
(
(

|
.
|

\
|
=
o

7. Temperature
The temperature has two effects on mass transfer:
1. It increases the diffusivity of the gas into the liquid.
2. Increases the value of k
L
a.
However, increase in the temperature decreases the solubility of
gas and hence reduces C
*
O2,L
.
So, (C
*
O2,L
-C
O2,L
) will reduce and there by it reduces mass
transfer.
In the range of 10-40
0
C, temperature rise increases the mass
transfer.
But temperature > 40
0
C, the mass transfer will decreases.

8. Pressure
Pressure affects the mass transfer by increasing the solubility of the gas
in the liquid phase, which is given by Henrys law:
p
O2,G
= H X C
*
O2,L
The partial pressure and total pressure of the system are related by:
p
O2,G
= p
T
X y
O2

Thus, a total pressure p
T
increases, p
O2,G
increases, and hence C
*
O2,L

increases, which in turn will increase driving force.

Generally, no high-pressure systems are used in fermentation processes.
9. Antifoaming agents
Most of the fermentation broths contains proteins which causes foaming.
Foaming is an unineviatble nuisance in fermentation broths, and should
be avoided.
Otherwise,
It may choke the pipelines, measuring instrument lines
It may harbour unnecessary microorganisms to thrive and thrash the
fermentation subsequently.
The choked pipe lines are difficult to be cleaned.
Foaming can be avoided by using- Mechanical foam breakers or
antifoaming agents
Use of Antifoaming agents reduces coalescence of smaller bubbles into
larger bubbles.

Thus they increase interfacial area and hence mass transfer.
10. Existence of cells
Oxygen transfer (or mass transfer) in fermentation broths is greatly
influenced by the presence of cells by two ways:
1.Physical Influence
2.Quantitative influence
In physical influence, cells interfere in the break-up and make-up of the
gas bubbles by influencing the surface properties.
As cells get absorbed on the gas-liquid interface, cells do not allow
smaller bubbles to coalesce into bigger bubbles, which increase the
interfacial area and in turn mass transfer.
In quantitative influence, the cells absorb oxygen during the process
which increases the driving force and hence oxygen transfer.
The influence of cells in enhancing the mass transfer depends on:
1. Type of cells 2. Morphology of cells 3. concentration of cells.
11. Surface active solutes
The surface active solutes, which are hydrophobic in nature
- alters the surface characteristics of the gas-liquid interface.
- do not allow the gas bubbles to coalesce.
This results in increased interfacial area.

The concentration of the solute could very low (0.05%), but its effect in
increasing the surface area could be large.

Since, the concentrations of solutes are very low, they do not affect the
interfacial tension to any appreciable or measurable extent.