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Bioprocess keys and concepts to know before buying a fermenter

Bioengineering and bioprocess have developed many advances like strain phenotype, process optimization, and operating conditions based on the requirements at the cellular level. Bioreactor and whole bioprocess systems have contributed to rapid evolution and in turn, affect the time scales for scale-up and commercialization. Metabolic engineering and genetic engineering tools have modified versions of new strains that have eventually helped several industrial applications.

Like many other fields at the intersection of science and technology, biomanufacturing comes with an overwhelming need for strategies and concepts. These concepts create chaos in overall development if neglected or misread. Sometimes different people within the industry will use the same pattern which gives no results after devoting a huge amount of time and cost.

Here at Amerging, we had the privilege to work with many biopharma, biotech, and biomanufacturing experts working in multiple areas of biology. We have listed some “to go through concepts” that users need to know before running a batch, which can help in smooth and continuous batch processes without any hurdles.

Some are:

Thermoregulation- It is very vital to understand the temperature control systems in fermenters to cultivate organisms in a highly controlled manner. In one batch itself, there is a requirement for both heating and cooling temperatures at very immediate time gaps to maintain a stable and accurate process. According to the client’s requirements for fermentation, various equipment can be used to maintain the temperature in a reaction. The personnel must determine the source relative to the nature of the reaction (exothermic/endothermic).

Also, thermal regulation relies on vessel volume. Suppose a benchtop reactor is in use to retain temperature between 37-38°C then a bath circulator is sufficient for temperature control but, larger volume vessels (typically above 5L) need a chiller and electrical heaters/ heat exchangers with water jackets and pumps. Steam for thermoregulation is always used in the case of the pilot and industrial plants.

However, for researchers to select the most appropriate temperature control equipment, they must first calculate the heat load (specific internal energy). This indicates the volume of heat that needs to be dissipated to maintain the optimal environment.

Gas mixing- Gas mixing is based on the type of organism, and its environmental parameters. Some aerobic microbes are sensitive to shear stress like animal tissues and others have tolerance for agitation and mixing forces. However, the lack of knowledge about the complex fluid flow has been an obstacle in the development of research. It is essential to know the viscosity and components of media, characteristics of the organism, and mass and oxygen transfer in the reactor so that it does not hamper the overall process. Depending on the type of organism, type of process, and its computational fluid dynamics, a few parameters are examined like velocity and energy dissipation rates to create a process framework. The user can determine these characteristics and can relate the type of gas mixers to their process.

Amerging controls gas mixing by thermal mass flow controllers (TFMC) or rotameters. Rotameters are basic and manual set up for easy configuration whereas TFMC is more of a basic set-up (fully automated). However, which system to integrate for one’s process is completely up to the client as customizable options are at the customer's discretion.

The number of sensors and their types- The rise in a potent bioprocess has established empowered bioreactors that allow the user to enable the science behind the procedure. This is how sensors and probes have helped researchers or scientists for almost every scientific and industrial application. The user must identify which probe will suit his/her process the most.

A bioreactor consists of some fixed sensors and accessory sensors. The two Fixed sensors mainly used in a vessel are for the determination of temperature, and pH. Other sensors like DO, turbidity, and optical density are always dependent on their need for measurement. Digital sensors can provide precise information about the operating hours and the quality of the medium. It is also possible to connect bioreactors with an open process software whereby the click of one button pH and other features can be controlled by adding additives simultaneously. So, the numbers and types can only be known if the user knows their parameters.

Additional accessories to vessel- It takes a very long time in using the traditional ways of examining the sample. Accessories to bioreactors are the new must-haves to perform high-level tasks in simpler and easy ways. The few must-haves are listed as follows:

  • Optical biomass measurement

  • Turbidity sensor

  • Mass flow controllers

  • Aseptic sampling systems

  • Dissolved oxygen (DO)

  • Anti-foam probe

Using direct sensors and probes can help not only in getting accurate results but also in the determination of flaws in the current going reaction. This way a person can correct the methods and at the same time can optimize the process for development and productive real-time results. It is perfectly fine to combine several accessories for multiple measurements and analyses.

The life of the sensor mainly depends on its usage. Old probes when start giving unusually low reading needs reconditioning at that time. Amerging provides maintenance and services packages where clients get different levels of assistance and replacement of old to new probes.

Plan and automate batch strategies- Fermenters nowadays are equipped with options for measurement and control. Software used in automation are intuitive and user-friendly controls managing all the different phases of the process. They can

  • Record process data

  • Stores the logs

  • Custom programs can be created and added to default control loops

  • Start and stop batches by Remote

  • Manage process outside the lab using smartphones or tabs

  • Change real-time to alarm limits

  • Changes to process control for almost every parameter

The user can plan their batch according to the automation and can run the custom program as a default one. Through automation bioreactors intended for the simple task can provide a high level of capability.

Maintenance when working with vessel- The connecting cords and tubing cause an immense fury to the people who are just starting. The user can avoid some of these intimidating situations by opting for easy and friendly to use systems. For easier handling, inexperienced users can utilize thermal blocks and other cords for safer use. Autoclaving reagent bottles and sampling points mounted as one piece minimize the possibility of contamination after sterilization. Amerging fermenters are completely sterilizable bench-top reactors that are easy to perform sterilization in autoclaves made of borosil specially made glass for fermentation process only. Fermenters having a volume range of more than 10L can be sterilized by SIP and CIP procedures. These procedures should be well known to the user because inappropriate sterilization can cause dramatic effects inside the chamber.

Final remarks- These are just a few bioprocess concepts people usually encounter, we hope this blog will provide you with the foundation that can help in navigating more specialized resources and gain more understanding of this incredible field.

If you are looking for expert help, please contact

#Biomanufacturing #Biotechnology #Bioprocess #Biopharma

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