Heat and water transfer in a rotating drum containing solid substrate particles

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In previous work we reported on the simulation of mixing behavior of a slowly rotating drum for solid-state fermentation (SSF) using a discrete particle model. In this investigation the discrete particle model is extended with heat and moisture transfer. Heat transfer is implemented in the model via interparticle contacts and the interparticle heat transfer coefficient is determined experimentally. The model is shown to accurately predict heat transfer and resulting temperature gradients in a mixed wheat grain bed. In addition to heat transfer, the addition and subsequent distribution of water in the substrate bed is also studied. The water is added to the bed via spray nozzles to overcome desiccation of the bed during evaporative cooling. The development of moisture profiles in the bed during spraying and mixing are studied experimentally with a water-soluble fluorescent tracer. Two processes that affect the water distribution are considered in the model: the intraparticle absorption process, and the interparticle transfer of free water. It is found that optimum distribution can be achieved when the free water present at the surface of the grains is quickly distributed in the bed, for example, by fast mixing. Alternatively, a short spraying period, followed by a period of mixing without water addition, can be applied. The discrete particle model developed is used successfully to examine the influence of process operation on the moisture distribution (e.g., fill level and rotation rate). It is concluded that the extended discrete particle model can be used as a powerful predictive tool to derive operating strategies and criteria for design and scale-up for mixed SSF and other processes with granular media.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-563
Number of pages12
JournalBiotechnology and bioengineering
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Discrete particle simulations
  • Heat transfer and water distribution
  • Solid-state fermentation
  • Mixing


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