8. Two-Phase Partitioning Bioreactors

  1. Christian Kennes and
  2. María C. Veiga
  1. Hala Fam and
  2. Andrew J. Daugulis

Published Online: 13 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118523360.ch8

Air Pollution Prevention and Control: Bioreactors and Bioenergy

Air Pollution Prevention and Control: Bioreactors and Bioenergy

How to Cite

Fam, H. and Daugulis, A. J. (2013) Two-Phase Partitioning Bioreactors, in Air Pollution Prevention and Control: Bioreactors and Bioenergy (eds C. Kennes and M. C. Veiga), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118523360.ch8

Editor Information

  1. Department of Chemical Engineering, University of La Coruña, Spain

Author Information

  1. Department of Chemical Engineering, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 19 APR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781119943310

Online ISBN: 9781118523360



  • Two-phase partitioning bioreactors;
  • non-aqueous phase;
  • organic solvent;
  • equilibrium partitioning;
  • polymer;
  • solids;
  • VOC mass transfer;
  • oxygen transfer


Two phase partitioning bioreactors (TPPBs) which incorporate a liquid or solid non-aqueous phase (NAP), in addition to the cell-containing aqueous phase, have demonstrated enhanced biodegradation of VOCs compared to single phase systems. TPPBs have shown superior operation during steady state and, in particular, transient operation in both mechanically agitated and air-lift systems. In addition to providing a means of detoxifying high VOC loadings to biotreatment systems, TPPBs enhance the mass transfer of oxygen and poorly soluble gaseous in the presence of the NAP. Critical properties of the NAP include high partitioning of the substrate, biocompatibility and non-biodegradability, ease of operation and low cost. Silicone oil has been the most widely used liquid NAP to date and possesses some of these properties, although it is somewhat limited to the treatment highly hydrophobic VOCs, and questions also remain about its handling/losses and cost. Solid NAPs in the form of amorphous polymer beads operate exactly as do liquid NAPs, absorbing and releasing target molecule based on satisfying cellular metabolic demand and thermodynamic equilibrium, while meeting the above NAP requirements and providing effective VOC treatment. Current concerns regarding the use of polymer NAPs are potentially reduced diffusivity of the VOCs into the polymer. In order to achieve full-scale implementation of TPPBs for VOC removal, additional investigations that confirm satisfactory performance under fluctuating operating conditions are required, as well as those that involve long-term and robust operation.