Stirred tank reactors are one of the standard reactors in the chemical industry and have been widely implemented for biological applications. They are used with viscous liquids, slurries, very low gas flow rates, and large liquid volumes. Stirred tank bioreactors are popular because a well-mixed state, required or preferred for numerous biological processes, is usually achieved in such situations; however, many production processes using microorganisms tend to experience fluid property alterations, which significantly impact mixing, operational parameters, and process results. The most troubling issues occur when a fluid gradually undergoes a viscosity change and/or slowly exhibits non-Newtonian behavior due to microorganism growth since these will alter the flow conditions and possibly limit the conversion rate or production scale. This paper provides an overview of the relevant mixing issues in stirred tank bioreactors when using a range of fluid viscosities, surface tensions, and/or non-Newtonian fluids.

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