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1 Introduction
Biotechnology is the culmination of more than 8000 years of human experience using living
organisms and the process of fermentation to make products such as bread, cheese, beer and
wine. Today biotechnology is applied to manufacturing processes used in health care, food and
agriculture, industrial and environmental cleanup, among other applications. The word
biotechnology, contraction of biological technology, came in general use in mid 1970's. Over the
years at least 10 different definitions of biotechnology has been proposed. A widely accepted
definition of Biotechnology is "Application of scientific and engineering principles to processing
of materials by biological agents to provide goods and service". Some other definitions replace
rather ambiguous word biological agents with more specific words such as microorganisms,
cells, plant and animal cells and enzymes. Biotechnology is truly an interdisciplinary field with
contributions from basic life science disciplines such as molecular and cell biology,
biochemistry, genetics and engineering such as chemical, instrumentation and control. In this
section, a brief summary of biotechnological applications, modeling preliminaries and different
types of bioreactors is presented. When a biotechnological process is implemented on a
commercial scale there is every reason to believe that it will the in some bioreactor or fermenter.
The entire process can be divided in three stages.

2. Bioreactors

At every step of the development of a biotechnological process, bioreactor is invariably used.

The sizes of the bioreactor can vary over several orders of magnitudes. The microbial cell (few
mm3), shake flask ( 100-1000 ml), laboratory fermenter ( 1 50 L), pilot scale (0.3 10 m3) to
plant scale ( 2 500 m3) are all examples of bioreactors. Whatever may be the size of the
bioreactor, the conditions in the bioreactor have to be favorable so that living microorganisms
can exhibit their activity (specific biochemical and microbial reactions) under defined conditions.
This results in a series of special features in the reaction engineering of biocatalytic processes.
The reaction rate, cell growth, and process stability depend on the environmental conditions in
the bioreactor. There are several unique aspects of biotechnological processes, which require
special consideration in design of bioreactors.

2.1 Unique aspects of biological processes


The concentrations of starting materials (substrates) and products in the reaction mixture

are frequently low; both the substrates and the products may inhibit the process. Cell growth, the
structure of intracellular enzymes, and product formation depend on the nutritional needs of the
cell (salts, oxygen) and on the maintenance of optimum biological conditions (temperature,
concentration of reactants, and pH) with in narrow limits.
(b) Certain substances inhibitors effectors, precursors, metabolic products influence the rate and
the mechanism of the reactions and intracellular regulation.

Microorganisms can metabolize unconventional or even contaminated raw materials

(cellulose, molasses, mineral oil, starch, ores, wastewater, exhaust air, biogenic waste), a process
which is frequently carried out in highly viscous, non-Newtonian media.

(d) In contrast to isolated enzymes or chemical catalysts, microorganisms adapt the structure
and activity of their enzymes to the process conditions, whereby selectivity and productivity can

change. Mutations of the microorganisms can occur under sub optimal biological conditions.

Microorganisms are frequently sensitive to strong shear stress and to thermal and chemical


Reactions generally occur in gas-liquid -solid systems, the liquid phase usually being

(g) The microbial mass can increase as biochemical conversion progresses. Effects such as
growth on the walls, flocculation, or autolysis of microorganisms can occur during the reaction.

Continuous bioreactors often exhibit complicated dynamic behavior.

2.2 Requirements of bioreactors

Due to above mentioned demands made by biological systems on their environment, there
is no universal bioreactor. However, the general requirements of the bioreactor are as follows:

The design and construction of biochemical reactors must preclude foreign contamination

(sterility). Furthermore, monoseptic conditions should be maintained during the fermentation and
ensure containment.
(b) Optimal mixing with low, uniform shear
(c) Adequate mass transfer (oxygen)
(d) Clearly defined flow conditions

Feeding of substrate with prevention of under or overdosing


Suspension of solids


Gentle heat transfer


Compliance with design requirements such as: ability to be sterilized; simple construction;

simple measuring, control, regulating techniques; scaleup; flexibility; long term stability;
compatibility with up- downstream processes; antifoaming measures.

2.3 Types of bioreactors

Bioreactors can be classified according to various different criteria


Type and form of biocatalyst: free cells in submerged cultures; carried bound or

immobilized cells/enzymes; retention or recirculation of the biocatalyst

(b) Configuration: tank (height/diameter <3), column (height/diameter > 3)

Energy input and aeration: liquid phase; gas phase; combined

(d) Hydrodynamics: perfect mixing; partial mixing; no mixing;


Mode of operation: batch; continuous; fed-batch.

Mode Of Operations
Bioreactors can be operated in three ways:

Batch reactors are simplest type of mode of reactor operation. In this mode, the reactor is filled
with medium and the fermentation is allowed to proceed. When the fermentation has finished the
contents are emptied for downstream processing. The reactor is then cleaned, re-filled, reinoculated and the fermentation process starts again.
Continuous reactors: fresh media is continuously added and bioreactor fluid is continuously
removed. As a result, cells continuously receive fresh medium and products and waste products
and cells are continuously removed for processing. The reactor can thus be operated for long
periods of time without having to be shut down. Continuous reactors can be many times more
productive than batch reactors. This is partly due to the fact that the reactor does not have to be
shut down as regularly and also due to the fact that the growth rate of the bacteria in the reactor
can be more easily controlled and optimized. In addition, cells can also be immobilized in
continuous reactors, to prevent their removal and thus further increase the productivity of these

The fed batch reactor is the most common type of reactor used in industry. In this reactor, fresh
media is continuous or sometimes periodically added to the bioreactor but unlike a continuous
reactor, there is no continuous removal. The fermenter is emptied or partially emptied when
reactor is full or fermentation is finished. As with the continuous reactor, it is possible to achieve

high productivities due to the fact that the growth rate of the cells can be optimized by
controlling the flow rate of the feed entering the reactor.

Comparison of Batch Culture and Continuous Cultivation

In batch cultivation, the bacteria are inoculated into the bioreactor (always stirred tank
bioreactor). Then, under certain conditions (temperature, pH, aeration, etc.) the bacteria go
through all the growth phases (lag, exponential, stationary). At last, the fermentation is stopped
and the product is collected. Then, after cleaning and sterilization of the fermenter, the
fermenter is ready for another batch.
In continuous cultivation, the fresh medium flows into the fermentor continuously, and part of
the medium in the reactor is withdrawn from the fermenter at the same flow rate of the inlet flow.
The table below shows the advantages and disadvantages of different modes of operation of the
stirred tank rector. (Ref 1.)

Mode of operation



Versatile: can be used for

High labor cost: skilled labor

different reactions every day.

is required

Safe: can be properly

Much idle time: Sterilization,


growth of inoculum, cleaning

Little risk of infection

after the fermentation

or strain mutation

Safety problems: when

Complete conversion of

filling, emptying, cleaning

substrate is possible
Often disappointing:

Works all the time: low labor

cost, good utilization of

promised continuous
production for months fails

due to a. infection. b.
Often efficient: due to the
autocatalytic nature of
microbial reactions, the
productivity can be high.
Automation may be very

spontaneous mutation of
microorganisms to non
producing strain
Inflexible: can rarely be used
for other productions without
substantial retrofitting

Constant product quality
From the above comparison, although continuous culture has some disadvantage, it can
outperform batch culture by eliminating the inherent down time for cleaning and sterilization and
the long lags before the organisms enter a brief period of high productivity.
Continuous culture is superior to batch culture in several ways for research. Interpretation of
results is difficult for batch culture because of changing concentrations of products and reactants,
varying pH and redox potential, and a complicated mix of growing, dying, and dead cells.

History of Fluidized Bed Reactor

-1 Gasifying coal in a fluidized bed, using oxygen. Not commercially successful (1920)
-2 Catalytic cracking (FCC) process (1940) Converted heavier petroleum cuts into
gasoline.Carbon-rich coke" deposits on the catalyst particles and deactivates the catalyst in less
than one second. The fluidized catalyst particles are shuttled between the fluidized bed reactor
and a fluidized bed burner where the coke deposits are burned off, generating heat for the
endothermic cracking reaction.
3. Mineral and metallurgical processes such as drying, calcining, and sulfide roasting (1950s)
4. Fluidized bed processes dramatically reduced the cost of some important monomers (1960s)
Example :Oxy chlorination process for vinyl chloride.
5. Fluidized bed used for synthesis of polyethylene reduced the cost of this important polymer.
The polymerization reaction generates heat and the intense mixing associated with fluidization
prevents hot spots where the polyethylene particles would melt. A similar process is used for the
synthesis of polypropylene. (Late 1970).

Basic principles
The solid substrate (the catalytic material upon which chemical species react) material in the
fluidized bed reactor is typically supported by a porous plate, known as a distributor.[1] The fluid

is then forced through the distributor up through the solid material. At lower fluid velocities, the
solids remain in place as the fluid passes through the voids in the material. This is known as
a packed bed reactor. As the fluid velocity is increased, the reactor will reach a stage where the
force of the fluid on the solids is enough to balance the weight of the solid material. This stage is
known as incipient fluidization and occurs at this minimum fluidization velocity. Once this
minimum velocity is surpassed, the contents of the reactor bed begin to expand and swirl around
much like an agitated tank or boiling pot of water. The reactor is now a fluidized bed. Depending
on the operating conditions and properties of solid phase various flow regimes can be observed
in this reactor.

Chemical reactors:

Fluidized beds in chemical industry include two main types of reactions:

1. Catalytic gas phase reactions
-Particles are not undergoing any chemical reaction.
-Principal of oil cracking for manufacturing of various chemical substances.
2. Gas-solid reactions
-Fluidized particles are involved in the reactions and undergo a phase change
-Combustion or gasification of coal or bio mass.
Other applications
Fluid bed processing involves
-Drying, cooling, Agglomeration ,Granulation, and Coating of particulate materials. Ideal for a
wide range of both heat sensitive and non heat sensitive products. Uniform processing conditions
are achieved by passing a gas (usually air) through a product layer under controlled velocity
conditions to create a fluidized state

Advantages And Disadvantages of fluidized bed reactor

Fluidized bed reactor (FBR).


Uniform Particle Mixing: Due to the intrinsic fluid-like behavior of the solid material,
fluidized beds do not experience poor mixing as in packed beds. This complete mixing
allows for a uniform product that can often be hard to achieve in other reactor designs. The
elimination of radial and axial concentration gradients also allows for better fluid-solid
contact, which is essential for reaction efficiency and quality.


Uniform Temperature Gradients: Many chemical reactions require the addition or

removal of heat. Local hot or cold spots within the reaction bed, often a problem in packed
beds, are avoided in a fluidized situation such as an FBR. In other reactor types, these local
temperature differences, especially hotspots, can result in product degradation. Thus FBRs
are well suited to exothermic reactions. Researchers have also learned that the bed-tosurface heat transfer coefficients for FBRs are high.


Ability to Operate Reactor in Continuous State: The fluidized bed nature of these
reactors allows for the ability to continuously withdraw product and introduce new
reactants into the reaction vessel. Operating at a continuos process state allows
manufacturers to produce their various products more efficiently due to the removal of
startup conditions in batch process.


Increased Reactor Vessel Size: Because of the expansion of the bed materials in the
reactor, a larger vessel is often required than that for a packed bed reactor. This larger
vessel means that more must be spent on initial capital costs.


Pumping Requirements and Pressure Drop: The requirement for the fluid to suspend
the solid material necessitates that a higher fluid velocity is attained in the reactor. In order
to achieve this, more pumping power and thus higher energy costs are needed. In addition,
the pressure drop associated with deep beds also requires additional pumping power.


Particle Entrainment: The high gas velocities present in this style of reactor often result
in fine particles becoming entrained in the fluid. These captured particles are then carried
out of the reactor with the fluid, where they must be separated. This can be a very difficult
and expensive problem to address depending on the design and function of the reactor.
This may often continue to be a problem even with other entrainment reducing


Lack of Current Understanding: Current understanding of the actual behavior of the

materials in a fluidized bed is rather limited. It is very difficult to predict and calculate the
complex mass and heat flows within the bed. Due to this lack of understanding, a pilot
plant for new processes is required. Even with pilot plants, the scale-up can be very
difficult and may not reflect what was experienced in the pilot trial.


Erosion of Internal Components: The fluid-like behavior of the fine solid particles
within the bed eventually results in the wear of the reactor vessel. This can require
expensive maintenance and upkeep for the reaction vessel and pipes.


Pressure Loss Scenarios: If fluidization pressure is suddenly lost, the surface area of the
bed may be suddenly reduced. This can either be an inconvenience (e.g. making bed restart
difficult), or may have more serious implications, such as runaway reactions (e.g. for
exothermic reactions in which heat transfer is suddenly restricted).

Economic price of fluidized bed reactor

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