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Airlift reactor — membrane extraction hybrid system for aroma production

Mário Mihaľ, Sean Peter Gavin, and Jozef Markoš

Institute of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Chemical and Food Technology, Slovak University of Technology, Radlinského 9, 812 97, Bratislava, Slovakia



Abstract: In recent times, environmental production methods and organic products are increasingly sought after in food, perfume, and cosmetic industries, where the products are consumed or come into direct contact with humans. One such additive is 2-phenylethanol, an alcoholic aromatic rose like smell compound, mainly used as a flavor and aroma. 2-Phenylethanol can be produced by bioconversion from l-phenylalanine using Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This type of biotransformation is strongly limited by product inhibition which allows reaching the maximum concentration of 2-phenylethanol, 4 g L−1, in an ordinary batch, fed-batch, or chemostat bioreactor. The main aim of the presented work was to study the possible yield increase of 2-phenylethanol in a hybrid system consisting of membrane extraction performed by a hollow fiber membrane module immersed in the downcomer of an airlift reactor. Such hybrid system can be used to remove 2-phenylethanol from the fermentation medium and thus to overcome the product inhibition of biotransformation. In this paper, the influence of biomass on membrane extraction of 2-phenylethanol from aqueous solution in an airlift reactor to alkanes at different operational conditions was studied. The measured extraction kinetics was compared with the predictions obtained by a mathematical model. Hydrodynamics of the hybrid system was also studied.

Keywords: 2-phenylethanol – airlift reactor – hollow fiber – immersed module – intensification – membrane extraction

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.2478/s11696-012-0261-0


Chemical Papers 67 (12) 1485–1494 (2013)

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

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