A Reacting Multiphase Computational Flow Model for 2,3-Butanediol Synthesis in Industrial-Scale Bioreactors

Hariswaran Sitaraman, James Lischeske, Yimin Lu, Jonathan Stickel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The microbe, Zymomonas mobilis, can efficiently convert sugars to 2,3 butanediol (BDO), an important intermediate for downstream chemical products, only in a well-controlled microaerated environment. However, controlling oxygen distribution in industrial-scale bioreactors is challenging, and at-scale BDO production is hard to optimize using traditional engineering methods. This study takes a step towards addressing this problem through a computational model for reacting multiphase flows in large-scale bioreactors. A phenomenological metabolic model was first developed and validated against experiments, and then it was coupled to a multiphase computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solver using a subcycling algorithm for simulating long conversion times ( ∼ 30 h). Large-scale ( ∼ 500 m3) bubble column simulations using this coupled approach demonstrated a 25% improvement in BDO yield with low sparging rates (0.002 m/s) and low height-to-diameter ratio (0.875) compared to a baseline bubble column (35 m height, 5 m diameter) with a superficial gas velocity of 0.06 m/s.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)38-52
Number of pages15
JournalChemical Engineering Research and Design
Volume197
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2C00-86231

Keywords

  • Biorefinery
  • Butanediol
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Mass transfer
  • Microaeration
  • Multiphase flow

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