BACKGROUND: A polarized light scattering technique was used to monitor the performance of a continuously operated foam fractionation process. The S11 and S12 parameters, elements of the light scattering matrix, combined together (S11+S12) have been correlated with the bubble size and liquid content for the case of a freely draining foam. The performance of a foam fractionation column is known to have a strong dependence on the bubble size distribution and liquid hold up in foam. In this study the enrichment is used as a metric, representative of foam properties and column performance, and correlated to the S11+S12 parameter.

RESULTS: Three different superficial gas velocities (6.9, 7.5, and 10.6 cm/min) and four different pH values (4.8, 5.5, 6.5, and 7.5) are tested for the foam fractionation of a dilute solution of bovine serum albumin (0.1 mg/ml). As a result, at scattering angle of 125 degrees the magnitude of S11+S12 is higher as the pH increases. When the bubble sizes are small with a larger liquid content, the foam is strongly back scattering resulting in lower values of S11+S12 (at 125 degrees ) at pH = 4.8. The light scattering data and the enrichment values are measured over a period of 90 minutes and correlated using a linear model. The predictive power of the model was found to be statistically significant.

CONCLUSION: The time average S11+S12 shows a direct proportionality with the enrichment value, indicating that polarized light should be a valuable technique for monitoring foam fractionation columns. Additional knowledge of the nature of dependence between foam properties and S11+S12 combined with models relating the enrichment to the bubble size and liquid hold up is needed to develop an accurate diagnostics tool for monitoring enrichment utilizing S11+S12 measurements.

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Published in Journal of Biological Engineering, v. 4, 5.

© 2010 Swamy et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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