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Analysis of particle strain in stirred bioreactors by drop breakage investigations

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Abstract

Understanding of particle strain and drop breakage is relevant for various technical applications. To analyze it, single drop experiments in a breakage cell and evolving drop size distributions in an agitated system are studied. The mechanisms for particle strain and drop breakage are assumed to be comparable for the investigated turbulent flow regime. The agitation process is simulated using a population balance model. This model provides transient prediction capacities at different scales and can be used for scale-up/down projects. The number and the size distributions of daughter fragments for single drops have been studied. The results clearly support the assumption of binary breakage. The most common assumption of a Gaussian distribution for the daughter drop size distribution could not be supported. The evolution of a breakage-dominated toluene/water system was then simulated using different daughter drop size distributions from literature. The computational results were compared with experimental values. All simulations were able to predict the transient Sauter mean diameter excellently but varied strongly in the results on the shape of the distribution. In agreement with the experimental single drop results, the use of a bimodal or a very broad bell-shaped distribution of the daughter drops is proposed for the simulations. Although these results were obtained in a particular vessel for a specific phase system, it can be applied to simulate transient multiphase systems at different scales. We would expect that the general trends observed in this study are comparable to various applications in multiphase bioreactors.

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