Trickle-bed root culture bioreactor design and scale-up: Growth, fluid-dynamics, and oxygen mass transfer

Divakar Ramakrishnan, Wayne R. Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Trickle-bed root culture reactors are shown to achieve tissue concentrations as high as 36 g DW/L (752 g FW/L) at a scale of 14 L. Root growth rate in a 1.6-L reactor configuration with improved operational conditions is shown to be indistinguishable from the laboratory-scale benchmark, the shaker flask (μ = 0.33 day-1). These results demonstrate that trickle-bed reactor systems can sustain tissue concentrations, growth rates and volumetric biomass productivities substantially higher than other reported bioreactor configurations. Mass transfer and fluid dynamics are characterized in trickle-bed root reactors to identify appropriate operating conditions and scale-up criteria. Root tissue respiration goes through a minimum with increasing liquid flow, which is qualitatively consistent with traditional trickle-bed performance. However, liquid hold-up is much higher than traditional trickle-beds and alternative correlations based on liquid hold-up per unit tissue mass are required to account for large changes in biomass volume fraction. Bioreactor characterization is sufficient to carry out preliminary design calculations that indicate scale-up feasibility to at least 10,000 liters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-260
Number of pages13
JournalBiotechnology and bioengineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 20 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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