The effect of Alcanivorax borkumensis SK2, a hydrocarbon-metabolising organism, on gas holdup in a 4-phase bubble column bioprocess

Ayman A. Abufalgha, Andrew R. J. Curson, David J. Lea-Smith, Robert W. M. Pott

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To design bioprocesses utilising hydrocarbon-metabolising organisms (HMO) as biocatalysts, the effect of the organism on the hydrodynamics of bubble column reactor (BCR), such as gas holdup, needs to be investigated. Therefore, this study investigates the first use of an HMO, Alcanivorax borkumensis SK2, as a solid phase in the operation and hydrodynamics of a BCR. The study investigated the gas holdup in 3-phase and 4-phase systems in a BCR under ranges of superficial gas velocities (UG) from 1 to 3 cm/s, hydrocarbon (chain length C13-21) concentrations (HC) of 0, 5, and 10% v/v and microbial concentrations (MC) of 0, 0.35, 0.6 g/l. The results indicated that UG was the most significant parameter, as gas holdup increases linearly with increasing UG from 1 to 3 cm/s. Furthermore, the addition of hydrocarbons into the air-deionized water -SK2 system showed the highest increase in the gas holdup, particularly at high UG (above 2 cm/s). The solids (yeast, cornflour, and SK2) phases had differing effects on gas holdup, potentially due to the difference in surface activity. In this work, SK2 addition caused a reduction in the fluid surface tension in the bioprocess which therefore resulted in an increase in the gas holdup in BCR. This work builds upon previous investigations in optimising the hydrodynamics for bubble column hydrocarbon bioprocesses for the application of alkane bioactivation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635–644
Number of pages10
JournalBioprocess and Biosystems Engineering
Early online date9 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • Alcanivorax borkumensis SK2
  • Bubble column reactor
  • Gas holdup
  • Hydrocarbon-based bioprocess
  • Multiphase system

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