Critical Analysis of Syngas Fermentation Reactors for Biological Alcohol Production

Gasification of cellulosic biomass (e.g. perennial grasses) to produce syngas (primarily carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen) used in fermentation for the production of ethanol and other alcohols is a novel technology. Critical bottlenecks that diminish alcohol productivity, lower syngas conversion efficiency, and inhibit the movement of this process to commercial scale include low cell density and gas-liquid mass transfer limitations. This work will expand upon previous syngas fermentation studies by exploring and critically evaluating the enhancement of mass transfer and associated alcohol productivity with various types and modifications of reactor designs. In this study, the reactor designs will include a continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR), a trickle bed reactor (TBR), and a hollow fiber reactor (HFR) system. Unlike traditional reactors in which only one gas is usually critical for the design (such as oxygen), this study is important since carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen are all vital for the fermentation and each gas has different aqueous solubilities and diffusivities (which affect mass transfer). Clostridium strain P11, a novel bacterium in which the PIs have significant experience, will be used. Unlike previous studies which often addressed one species (usually carbon monoxide), this study will address mass transfer associated with carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen and assess which, if any, of these species may limit the process. This work will focus on multiple comparison parameters including mass transfer rates, conversion efficiencies of both carbon monoxide and hydrogen, and product and cell formation rates. Successful completion of this work will provide valuable guidance towards designing large scale bioreactors with increased alcohol productivity and syngas utilization.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Program Information: Advanced Research, Biobased Research


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $374999.00
  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    Department of Transportation
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Johnson, Shawn

  • Performing Organizations:

    Oklahoma State University, Stillwater

    Stillwater, OK  United States  74078
  • Principal Investigators:

    Atiyeh, Hasan

  • Start Date: 20091201
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20131130
  • Source Data: RiP Project 31373

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01572210
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Department of Transportation
  • Files: RIP
  • Created Date: Aug 4 2015 1:00AM