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Effect of an Anaerobic Fermentation Process on 3D-Printed PLA Materials of a Biogas-Generating Reactor

Cioabla, Adrian, Duma, Virgil-Florin, Mnerie, Corina, Erdelyi, Ralph-Alexandru, Dobre, George Mihai, Bradu, Adrian, Podoleanu, Adrian (2022) Effect of an Anaerobic Fermentation Process on 3D-Printed PLA Materials of a Biogas-Generating Reactor. Materials, 15 (23). Article Number 8571. ISSN 1996-1944. (doi:10.3390/ma15238571) (KAR id:98605)


3D-printed materials are present in numerous applications, from medicine to engineering. The aim of this study is to assess their suitability for an application of interest today, that of testing of 3D-printed polylactic acid (PLA)-based reactors for biogas production using anaerobic digestion. The impact of temperature, pH, and aqueous phase on the tested bioreactor is investigated, together with the effect of the gaseous phase (i.e., produced biogas). Two batches of materials used sepa-rately, one after another inside the bioreactor were considered, in a realistic situation. Two essential parameters inside the reactor (i.e., pH and temperature) were continuously monitored during a time interval of 25 to 30 days for each of the two biogas-generating processes. To understand the impact of these processes on the walls of the bioreactor, samples of 3D-printed material were placed at three levels: at the top (i.e., outside the substrate), in the middle, and at the bottom of the bioreactor. The samples were analyzed using a non-destructive imaging method, Optical Coherence Tomogra-phy (OCT). An in-house developed swept-source (SS) OCT system, master–slave (MS) enhanced, operating at a central wavelength of 1310 nm was utilized. The 3D OCT images related to the deg-radation level of the material of the PLA samples were validated using Scanning Electron Micros-copy (SEM). The differences between the impact of the substrate on samples situated at the three considered levels inside the reactor were determined and analyzed using their OCT B-scans (optical cross-section images). Thus, the impact of the biogas-generating process on the interior of the bio-reactor was demonstrated and quantified, as well as the capability of OCT to perform such assess-ments. Therefore, future work may target OCT for in situ investigations of such bioreactors.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.3390/ma15238571
Uncontrolled keywords: bioengineering; anaerobic digestion; 3D-printed thermoplastic polymer; polylactic acid (PLA); surface topography; Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT); Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM); Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)
Subjects: Q Science > QC Physics > QC355 Optics
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Physics and Astronomy
Funders: Royal Society (
Academy of Medical Sciences (
Depositing User: Adrian Bradu
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2022 12:51 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2023 14:34 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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