Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Heng Ban


Heng Ban


Timothy Taylor


Robert Spall


In the bio/pharmaceutical industry, fermentation is extremely important in pharmaceutical development, and in microbial research. However, new fermentor designs are needed to improve production and reduce costs of complex systems such as cultivation of mammalian cells and genetically engineered micro-organisms. Traditionally, stirred tank design is driven by the oxygen transfer capability needed to achieve cell growth. However, design methodologies available for stirred tank fermentors are insufficient and many times contain errors. The aim of this research is to improve the design of production scale stirred tank fermentors through the development of dimensionless correlations and by providing information on aspects of fermentor tanks that can aid in oxygen mass transfer. This was accomplished through four key areas. Empirical studies were used to quantify the mass transfer capabilities of several different reactors. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) was used to assess the impact of certain baffle and impeller geometries. Correction schemes were developed and applied to the experimental data. Dimensionless correlations were created from corrected experimental data to act as a guide for future production scale fermentor design. The methods for correcting experimental data developed in this research have proven to be accurate and useful. Furthermore, the correlations found from the corrected experimental data in this study are of great benefit in the design of production scale stirred tank fermentors. However, when designing a stirred tank fermentor of a different size, further experimentation should be performed to refine the correlations presented.