Helical-blade solids mixers have a large potential as bioreactors for solid-state fermentation (SSF). Fundamental knowledge of the flow and mixing behavior is required for robust operation of these mixers. In this study predictions of a discrete particle model were compared to experiments with colored wheat grain particles and positron emission particle tracking (PEPT) measurements. In the discrete particle model individual movements of particles were calculated from interaction forces. It was concluded that the predicted overall flow behavior matched well with the PEPT measurements. Differences between the model predictions and the experiments with wheat grains were found to be due to the assumption that substrate particles were spherical, which was in the model. Model simulations and experiments with spherical green peas confirmed this. The mixing in the helical-blade mixer could be attributed to (1) the transport of particles up and down in the interior of the mixer, and (2) dispersion or micro-mixing of particles in the top region of the mixer. It appeared that the mixing rate scaled linearly with the rotation rate of the blade, although the average particle velocity did not scale proportionally. It may be that the flow behavior changes as a function of the rotation rate (e.g., changing thickness of the top region); further study is required to confirm this. To increase the mixing performance of the mixer, a larger blade or a change in the shape of the mixer (larger top surface/volume ratio) is recommended.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Biotechnology and bioengineering|
|Publication status||Published - 2003|