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

01 December 2022

New journal paper published in Materials!


Adrian Cioabla,Virgil-Florin Duma,Corina Mnerie,Ralph-Alexandru Erdelyi, George Mihai Dobre, Adrian Bradu, and Adrian Podoleanu

Title and coordinates

“[Enhanced resolution optoacoustic microscopy using a Effect of an Anaerobic Fermentation Process on 3D-Printed PLA Materials of a Biogas-Generating Reactor, Materials 15, 8571 (2022).


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 separately, 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 Tomography (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 degradation level of the material of the PLA samples were validated using Scanning Electron Microscopy (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 bioreactor was demonstrated and quantified, as well as the capability of OCT to perform such assessments. Therefore, future work may target OCT for in situ investigations of such bioreactors.

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