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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 7 Issue 2 (2002) pp 90-95

Assembly of a Multiphase Bioreactor for Laboratory Demonstrations: Study of the Oxygen-Transfer Efficiency in Activated Sludge

Fernando Dorado*, Manuel Andrés Rodrigo, and Isaac Asencio

Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Campus Universitario s/n, 13004 Ciudad Real, Spain
Received October 11, 2001. Accepted January 22, 2002

Published online: 15 March 2002

Abstract. A simple experimental device has been assembled with the aim of increasing studentsí understanding of multiphase reactors and to highlight the importance of economic considerations in real chemical engineering problems. The multiphase reactor studied is an activated sludge reactor. In this type of reactor, organic matter and nitrogen substrates, which are contained in wastewater, are oxidized by solid bacterial groups that employ oxygen. Gas dispersion is a factor of critical importance in the operating performance and cost of every multiphase reactor. In the work covered here, students determine the influence of this factor on the assembly while considering that energy consumption (economic cost) depends on both the type of aerator used and the operational conditions for a given aerator. A theoretical model is proposed that allows the interpretation of the results based on the assumptions that gas absorption and biochemical reactions are the limiting steps. Experimental data are fitted to this model, and the parameters obtained allow comparison of the behavior of each type of aerator and also provide an understanding of the process.

Key Words:  Laboratories and Demonstrations; physical chemistry; chemical engineering; multiphase bioreactors

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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Issue date: April 5, 2002

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