Combined discrete particle and continuum model predicting solid-state fermentation in a drum fermentor

M.A.I. Schutyser, W.J. Briels, R.M. Boom, A. Rinzema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The development of mathematical models facilitates industrial (large-scale) application of solid-state fermentation (SSF). In this study, a two-phase model of a drum fermentor is developed that consists of a discrete particle model (solid phase) and a continuum model (gas phase). The continuum model describes the distribution of air in the bed injected via an aeration pipe. The discrete particle model describes the solid phase. In previous work, mixing during SSF was predicted with the discrete particle model, although mixing simulations were not carried out in the current work. Heat and mass transfer between the two phases and biomass growth were implemented in the two-phase model. Validation experiments were conducted in a 28-dm3 drum fermentor. In this fermentor, sufficient aeration was provided to control the temperatures near the optimum value for growth during the first 45-50 hours. Several simulations were also conducted for different fermentor scales. Forced aeration via a single pipe in the drum fermentors did not provide homogeneous cooling in the substrate bed. Due to large temperature gradients, biomass yield decreased severely with increasing size of the fermentor. Improvement of air distribution would be required to avoid the need for frequent mixing events, during which growth is hampered. From these results, it was concluded that the two-phase model developed is a powerful tool to investigate design and scale-up of aerated (mixed) SSF fermentors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-413
Number of pages9
JournalBiotechnology and bioengineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Discrete particle
  • Two-phase model
  • Solid-state fermentation
  • Drum fermentor


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