The Use of Microporous Divinyl Benzene Copolymer for Yeast Cell Immobilization and Ethanol Production in Packed-Bed Reactor

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Microporous divinyl benzene copolymer (MDBP) was used for the first time as immobilization material for Saccharomyces cerevisiae ATCC 26602 cells in a bed reactor and ethanol production from glucose was studied as a model system. A very homogenous thick layer of yeast cells were seen from the scanning electron micrographs on the outer walls of biopolymer. The dried weight of the cells was found to be approximately 2 g per gram of cell supporting material. Hydrophobic nature of polymer is an important factor increasing cell adhesion on polymer pieces. The dynamic flow conditions through the biomaterial due to its microporous architecture prevented exopolysaccharide matrix formation around cells and continuous washing out of toxic metabolites and dead and degraded cells from the reactor provided less diffusional limitations and dynamic living environment to the cells. In order to see the ethanol production performance of immobilized yeast cells, a large initial concentration range of glucose between 6.7 and 300 g/l was studied at 1 ml/min in continuous packed-bed reactor. The inhibition effect of glucose with increasing initial concentration was observed at above 150 g/l, a relatively high substrate concentration. The continuous fluid flow around the microenvironment of the attached cells and mass transferring ability of cell immobilized on MDBP can help in decreasing the inhibition effect of ethanol accumulation and high substrate concentration in the vicinity of the cells.

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