New Fully Funded PhD Project Available (Extended Application Deadline: TBD)

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  Joseph Ikwebe

Postgraduate Student

Intensification of bioethanol production by simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) in the oscillatory baffled reactor (OBR)



Bioethanol is a promising alternative fuel produced mainly by the biochemical conversion of biomasses. This can be carried out efficiently and economically by simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF), a process which integrates the enzymatic saccharification of the cellulose to glucose with the fermentative synthesis of ethanol. However, the SSF unit operation still contributes nearly 50% to the cost of ethanol production. For cellulosic ethanol to be cost competitive, there is the need to intensify the production process in smaller, more efficient and more economical bioreactors. The crux of my project involves evaluating SSF in an intensified form of plug flow reactor, called Oscillatory Baffled Reactor (OBR).


The OBR is a continuous tubular reactor fitted with equally-spaced orifice plate baffles. An oscillatory component, provided by moving bellows or pistons, is superimposed on the net flow through the reactor, generating short-lived vortices due to the interaction of the oscillating fluid with the baffles. This results in uniform mixing in each of the inter-baffle regions, with each behaving as a stirred tank reactor (STR), producing a plug flow residence time distribution (RTD), in which the mixing effects are largely decoupled from the mean flow (unlike conventional PFRs).


The OBR, not only enhances mixing but also intensifies the entire process leading to smaller footprints, capital cost savings, improved safety and better conversion.


For more information please contact Prof Adam Harvey.




 Last modified: 04-Aug-2017