From bioreactors to bubbles to bacteria: on multi-scale interactions in gas fermentations

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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One of the major challenges mankind faces nowadays is combating climate change. A substantial fraction of greenhouse gases are released by industrial processes, as steelmaking, (oil)refinery and waste processing. Emissions from these processes can partly be prevented with a recently developed technology called gas fermentation. Within this process, synthesis gas – amixture containing CO, CO2 and H2 – is converted into ethanol and acetic acid by bacteria such as Clostridium autoethanogenum. These products could be used in a wide range of applications, like fuels, plastics and cosmetics. Whilst gas fermentation is already applied at commercial-scale, challenges in scale-up persists due to complex multi-scale interactions among the bioreactor, gas bubbles, and bacteria. The poor solubility of CO and H2 alongside gas bubble coalescence, leads to low gas-to-liquid mass transfer rates (typically denoted via kLa). Slow mixing in industrial bioreactors (500m3), and high gas conversion rates, result in large spatial variations in dissolved gas concentrations. Bacteria experiencing concentration fluctuations have often been related to decreased process performance...
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Noorman, H.J., Supervisor
  • Picioreanu, C., Supervisor
  • Haringa, C., Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date31 May 2024
Place of PublicationDelft
Print ISBNs978-94-6366-858-3
Electronic ISBNs978-94-6366-858-3
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Gas fermentation
  • Scale-up
  • Scale-down
  • CFD
  • bioreactors
  • bubble column


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