Depending on the situation, it may be appropriate to consider either an individual tray or the whole-tray chamber as the bioreactor. For example, it would be appropriate to treat the whole tray chamber as the bioreactor when the trays are open to free gas and water exchange with their surroundings and the temperature and humidity of the air in the tray chamber are carefully controlled.
The question about optimum design of tray chambers has received little attention. For example, quantitative information is not available about the best way to position trays in the chamber. As a result, it is not possible to state what is the best spacing to leave between trays in order to maximize volumetric productivity (that is, the amount of product produced per unit volume of tray chamber). Most attention has been given to the individual trays.
As a generalization, within an individual tray, large O2 and temperature gradients will arise in the substrate layer during the fermentation. The following subsections outline what is known about the limitations on O2 and heat transfer within tray bioreactors.
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