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Agricultural Wastes 18 (1986) 313-314

Book Review

Process Engineering Aspects of Immobilised Cell Systems. Edited by C. Webb, G. M. Black and B. Atkinson. Institution of Chemical Engineers, 1986. Price: 25.00.
This small volume of contributions from authors involved in both the industrial and academic sides of immobilised cell technology is based on a conference organised in March, 1974, by the North Western Branch of the Institution of Chemical Engineers. The main papers are grouped into four sections which cover the basis of methods of cell immobilisation, requirements for reactor design, the behaviour of immobilised cell particles under pilot and operating conditions, and some current industrial applications. Finally, eleven supplementary contributions present experimental data from a variety of systems under development for the handling of plant, algal, fungal and bacterial cells. The majority of contributions cover theoretical aspects of current knowledge of the growth characteristics of immobilised cells and the behaviour of biomass particles in reactors, gained from experience of their use on laboratory, pilot and full scales. Although actual industrial applications are, so far, few in number, the process engineering advantages of using immobilised cells, rather than traditional free cell cultures, are apparent from many of the papers presented here. Cells may be entrapped in various types of polymers, or be immobilised on a wide variety of different surfaces ranging from ion exchange resins to plastic pan scourers. There is an excellent account of the potential for using both immobilised cells and immobilised enzyme systems in carrying out multi-stage reaction
313 Agricultural Wastes (18) (1986)-- Elsevier Applied Science Publishers Ltd, England, 1986. Printed in Great Britain


Book review

sequences in vitro, with particular reference to means of regenerating cofactors where necessary. Several chapters present mathematical treatments of microbial growth kinetics, of the kinetics of diffusion of substrates and products in an immobilised biomass, and of the modelling of particle behaviour in reactors. While these contributions are, of course, essential to the rigorous treatment of the subject, they may not be accessible to the general reader, but then this book is not intended as a basic text in any of these areas. It is particularly irritating, however, to find that in one article none of the mathematical symbols used is defined within the text. An editorial note pointing out that all symbols used in the volume are defined in a single Table at the front of the book would have been useful, and would have saved the reader exasperation in many of the other papers. Immobilised cell technology has potential applications in the field of sewage treatment. Two very interesting papers describe projects designed to increase sewage through-put and improve the efficiency of nitrate removal on a year-round basis. The two fluidised-bed reactor, while achieving the required increase in processing capacity, is too expensive to be economic in practice. The C A P T O R process, which uses suspended plastic pads to increase the area for colonisation by the organisms of activated sludge, has proved to be a valuable system for upgrading existing sewage treatment facilities. With microbial and plant cell systems providing the majority of the examples discussed, this book will be useful to those working in microbial or plant biotechnology and in wastewater treatment. However, the very condensed style of many of the articles makes them not very suitable as an introduction to a potential new technology for those new to the field.
A. C. Paterson