• computational fluid dynamics;
  • multiphase flow;
  • hydrodynamics;
  • mass transfer;
  • hairy root


A two-dimensional axisymmetric computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model based on a porous media model and a discrete population balance model was established to investigate the hydrodynamics and mass transfer behavior in an airlift bioreactor for hairy root culture. During the hairy root culture of Echinacea purpurea, liquid and gas velocity, gas holdup, mass transfer rate, as well as oxygen concentration distribution in the airlift bioreactor were simulated by this CFD model. Simulative results indicated that liquid flow and turbulence played a dominant role in oxygen mass transfer in the growth domain of the hairy root culture. The dissolved oxygen concentration in the hairy root clump increased from the bottom to the top of the bioreactor cultured with the hairy roots, which was verified by the experimental detection of dissolved oxygen concentration in the hairy root clump. This methodology provided insight understanding on the complex system of hairy root culture and will help to eventually guide the bioreactor design and process intensification of large-scale hairy root culture. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2011