Multiphasic fermentations where an organic phase is spontaneously formed or when it is added for product removal are commonly used for production of valuable compounds. The turbulent conditions and the presence of surface-active compounds (SACs) during fermentation create a stable emulsion difficult to separate. A gas bubble/oil droplet separation method has been proposed to break such emulsion. In this paper, we propose a mathematical model to describe oil/bubble interaction in a region of high oil droplet concentration. Model validation was performed using a synthetic emulsion and an emulsion from a fermentation broth. By applying the optimal parameters predicted by the model, a 6- and 3-times oil recovery improvement was reached for the synthetic emulsion and the fermentation broth, respectively. In conclusion, the proposed mechanistic model allowed to improve oil recovery in the existing laboratory set-up, and can be used to optimize the separation and recovery method at large scale.
- Multiphasic fermentation
- Oil recovery