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Air Compressor Set-Up
Air Blowers

Air Compressors in Aerobic Fermentation

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The following is an excerpt from my article that outlines the role of aeration equipment in aerobic fermentation. Read the full version in the November/December 2018 issue of Pharmaceutical Engineering.

The compressor equipment should have several features to meet fermentation process requirements.

Equipment Reliability

A backup compressor for each header system should always be in place, since unreliable equipment can lead to multiple machines down and a system unable to meet oxygen demands. Although nonfunctioning equipment is most often the result of extreme conditions or unexpected circumstances, the cost of unusable end product(s) may be greater than the compressor equipment investment.

Energy Efficiency

As we have seen, single-stage equipment designed for the lower operating pressures of fermentation tanks can greatly reduce operating costs. VFD equipment further improves this efficiency to accommodate variable oxygen demands at various stages of fermentation.

Controllability

A supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) or distributed control (DCS) system in the plant should be able to operate compressor equipment seamlessly, varying the speed as the system requires. Compressors that utilize integrated controls can perform this function while they monitor critical parameters, making sure the equipment is protected while being controlled remotely.

Interested in reading more articles by Travis McGarrah? Here are a few to get you started:
  1. Advice to Ensure Long and Reliable Aeration Blower Performance
  2. Blown Away
  3. Advancements in Aeration

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