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Bioreactor Agitated by Rushton Turbine CFD Simulation

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The present problem simulates fluid mixing in a bioreactor with a Rushton turbine using ANSYS fluent software.

This product includes a Mesh file and a comprehensive Training Movie.

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Project Description

The present problem simulates fluid mixing in a bioreactor with a Rushton turbine using ANSYS fluent software. Bioreactors are equipment and systems in which biochemical reactions occur and are used in various industries, including pharmaceutical, food, biochemical, perfumery, etc. The bioreactor modeled in this simulation has a cylindrical structure. A stirrer is placed vertically inside it to rotate the fluid flow inside this model to help the fluid mix and thus the desired chemical process. The stirrer used inside this reactor is a Rushton type turbine. Rushton turbines are in the form of radial flow type impellers widely used in mixing applications in engineering processes.

These stirrers’ structure consists of flat discs connected to a vertical rotating axis on which the flat blades are mounted vertically. The Rushton turbine in this modeling consists of two rows of wide discs with blades. A cylindrical inner region is distinguished within the model to define the fluid’s rotational flow around this Rushton turbine stirrer, which can be applied using the Mesh Motion technique. The value of rotational speed in this region is equal to 143 rpm and is defined around the model’s vertical central axis (Y-axis). Also, three rows of baffles are designed on the bioreactor cylindrical body’s inner surface, which are used to break the vortices inside the device.

Because the presence of these vortices harms the system so that it can change the center of gravity of the system and consume additional energy.

Bioreactor and Rushton Geometry & Mesh

We design the present model in three dimensions using Design Modeler software. The model includes a bioreactor with a cylindrical structure of 0.8 m high and 0.4 m in diameter with a vertical stirrer. The vertical stirrer of this model has two rows of flat discs with six blades mounted on it.


We carry out the meshing of the model using ANSYS Meshing software, and the mesh type is unstructured. The element number is 3558726. The following figure shows the mesh.


Bioreactor CFD Simulation

We consider several assumptions to simulate the present model:

  • We perform a pressure-based solver.
  • The simulation is unsteady. Because the purpose of the present work is to investigate the mixing of fluids over time.
  • We ignore the gravity effect on the fluid.

The following table represents a summary of the defining steps of the problem and its solution:

Models (Bioreactor)
Viscous k-epsilon
k-epsilon model RNG
near wall treatment standard wall functions
Boundary conditions (Bioreactor)
Outer Wall Wall
wall motion stationary wall
Baffle Wall
wall motion stationary wall
Blade Wall
wall motion stationary wall
Methods (Bioreactor)
Pressure-Velocity Coupling SIMPLE
Pressure second order
momentum second order upwind
turbulent kinetic energy first order upwind
turbulent dissipation rate first order upwind
Initialization (Bioreactor)
Initialization methods Hybrid

Results & Discussions

At the end of the solution process, three-dimensional contours related to the pressure gradient, velocity, and turbulent kinetic energy of the device’s water flow are obtained. Two-dimensional contours of pressure, velocity, and turbulent kinetic energy of water flow in two two-dimensional sections perpendicular to the stirrer’s axis and passing through two stirrer disks are obtained. The contours show well the increase in velocity and rotation of the flow around the impeller turbine impellers. Also, water velocity vectors around the stirrer axis are obtained in two dimensions and three dimensions. By examining these velocity vectors’ trajectory, it is clear that the fluid flow rotates entirely around the stirrer’s axis of rotation.

Also, we obtain wall tension and pressure contours on the surfaces of turbine disks and impellers.

There are a Mesh file and a comprehensive Training Movie that presents how to solve the problem and extract all desired results.


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