Downscaling Industrial-Scale Syngas Fermentation to Simulate Frequent and Irregular Dissolved Gas Concentration Shocks

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In large-scale syngas fermentation, strong gradients in dissolved gas (CO, H2) concentrations are very likely to occur due to locally varying mass transfer and convection rates. Using Euler-Lagrangian CFD simulations, we analyzed these gradients in an industrial-scale external-loop gas-lift reactor (EL-GLR) for a wide range of biomass concentrations, considering CO inhibition for both CO and H2 uptake. Lifeline analyses showed that micro-organisms are likely to experience frequent (5 to 30 s) oscillations in dissolved gas concentrations with one order of magnitude. From the lifeline analyses, we developed a conceptual scale-down simulator (stirred-tank reactor with varying stirrer speed) to replicate industrial-scale environmental fluctuations at bench scale. The configuration of the scale-down simulator can be adjusted to match a broad range of environmental fluctuations. Our results suggest a preference for industrial operation at high biomass concentrations, as this would strongly reduce inhibitory effects, provide operational flexibility and enhance the product yield. The peaks in dissolved gas concentration were hypothesized to increase the syngas-to-ethanol yield due to the fast uptake mechanisms in C. autoethanogenum. The proposed scale-down simulator can be used to validate such results and to obtain data for parametrizing lumped kinetic metabolic models that describe such short-term responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number518
Number of pages22
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • bioreactor
  • bubble column
  • CFD
  • Euler-Lagrange
  • gas-lift
  • industrial
  • lifeline
  • scale-down
  • scale-up
  • stirred tank
  • syngas fermentation

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