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Bioreactors in the Food Industries


In this blog, we are going to discuss about the use of fermenters in food industry. In the food industry, fermenters are mainly used for fermentation. As fermentation process is a biological process, hence fermenters are also known as bioreactors. Fermentation technology is the oldest and essential of all biotechnological processes, dating back thousands of years which are involved in the production of fermented foods and beverages by converting sugars into alcohol and other byproducts imparting flavor and aroma to the end product. It was the means by which bread, wine, beer, kefir, kombucha and cheese were made through yeast and bacteria.

Additionally, bioreactors have also been widely applied in the agricultural industries to manufacture nutraceuticals as well as wastewater treatment of effluent from food industries.

Advantages of fermented foods

  • Fermentation serves as a means of preserving foods in a cost effective manner; thus cheese stays fresh longer than the milk from which it is made.

  • The organoleptic properties of fermented foods are improved as compared to the raw materials from which they are prepared; cheese for example, tastes very different from milk.

  • Fermentation somewhat also removes unwanted or harmful constituents in the raw material; like fermentation decreases the poisonous cyanide content of cassava during garri preparation.

  • The nutritive components of the food are improved by the presence of the microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria and the yeasts in bread enhance the nutritive quality of these foods.

  • Fermentation also seems to reduce the cooking time of the food such as in the case of fermented soybean products.

How Amerging Technologies helps?

Our Amerging Technologies group has developed an extensive knowledge of all the aspects in Biotech, Pharma, food and various other industries and provides the best equipment manufacturing as well as process engineering services .We are the leading manufacture of fermenters/ bioreactors which includes Glass autoclave Fermenter/Bioreactor, In situ Fermenter/Bioreactor, Production scale Fermenter/Bioreactor, Lab scale Photobioreactor, Glass autoclave parallel Fermenter/Bioreactor, Process vessel storage tanks which can be utilized for small scale as well as for large scale production of desired products. The exceptional quality and flexibility of our products provides us the competitive edge towards other process equipment industries.

Bioreactors which we provide have several advantages over traditional methods of growing and scaling microorganisms or cells such as

  • Increased productivity by controlling optimal conditions

  • Scalability

  • Automation

  • Sterility

  • High productivity

  • Repeatability

  • Versatility etc.

Overall, our bioreactors can be used to improve the efficiency, productivity, and repeatability of many industrial, medical and research processes, allowing for the production of high-quality, consistent products.

Bioreactors/fermenters commonly used in food industries

1. Stirred Tank Bioreactor:

  • Most commonly used fermenter because of their flexibility.

  • Cylindrical vessels with motor driven central shaft with impeller or an agitator to stir the contents in the tank.

  • Offers high oxygen transfer rates required for high biomass productivity, low investment and operating cost.

  • Used in the production of the primary metabolites, enzymes and amino acids, alcohol etc.

  • Also used in the process of activated sludge employed in the wastewater treatment done by food industries.

2. Airlift Bioreactor:

  • Cylindrical vessel in which cells are mixed with air introduces at the base of the vessel and rises through the column of the culture medium.

  • Better mass and heat transfer efficiencies and low shear conditions.

  • Mainly used for citric acid production, phytase and glucoamylase, methanol production, waste water treatment, single-cell protein production.

3. Fluidized Bed Bioreactor

  • In this bioreactor, a solid granular bed is usually made up of a biocatalyst.

  • The fluid, that is, liquid or gas, is passed through the solid bed at high speeds, such that the suspended solid behaves like a fluid.

  • Used for microbial flocs, immobilized cells, and enzymes.

4. Packed Bed Bioreactor:

  • It consists of a column filled with a solid matrix or support material.

  • The fermentation media is then passed through the column, allowing for continuous or semi-continuous fermentation.

  • Used in dairy industry to synthesize nutraceuticals from lactose through the enzymatic route.

  • Also synthesize oligosaccharides, fructose corn syrup, fructose, farnesyl laurate, polygalacturonases, sucrose hydrolysate, and starch hydrolysate.

  • Used for wastewater treatment also.

  • Packed-bed bioreactors offer several advantages such as ease of operation, better quality control of products, and high mass transfer and reaction rates.

5. Photobioreactor:

  • Utilized for the photosynthetic cultivation of microalgae and cyanobacteria to produce astaxanthin and β-carotene, among other products.

  • Photosynthetic cultures require either natural or artificial light.

  • Artificial illumination is expensive, and outdoor photobioreactors seems to be the only way for large-scale production.

  • Open ponds and raceways are frequently used to cultivate microalgae, particularly in wastewater treatment procedures.

6. Bubble column Bioreactor:

  • Cylindrical vessels with a gas distributor at the bottom.

  • Gas is sparged in the form of bubbles into either a liquid phase or liquid-solid suspension from the bottom enabling optimum gas exchange.

  • Suited for the biological treatment of wastewater, cultivation of herring-sensitive organisms. E.g. Plant cells and mould, Chemical and pharmaceutical production and less viscous aerobic fermentations.

7. Membrane Bioreactor:

  • Consists of hollow fibers made of cellulose acetate with uniform wall matrix with asymmetric wall configurations.

  • It combines the treatment system with filteration resulting in removal of organic and suspended solid matters by perfusion system for simultaneous separation of biomass and product and biocatalyst regeneration.

  • Used for the production of lactic acid.

Current developments in the bioreactors in food industries

Cell cultivated foods in bioreactors:

Scientific and Public debate about the effects of traditional animal agriculture has focused on the welfare of animals and the environment. Materials like microalgae, fungi, yeast, and insects are some alternatives to traditional diets. The development of new methods to mimic the nutritional qualities of conventional foods as well as to potentially create entirely new product classes has been made possible by scientific and technological advancements in cellular agriculture and processing technologies.

Numerous opportunities exist to create unique, wholesome food products using cells grown or cultivated in bioreactors. Technology advancements in the design, engineering, and biological and material sciences of bioreactors have made it possible to create novel products that can mimic the qualities of conventional foods (like animal protein and fat tissue) without needing to cultivate and harvest entire macro-organisms (like plants and animals). Vitamins, minerals, pigments, fiber, and other elements found in whole cells or in products involving cells as ingredients are some of the key nutritional components of cell cultivated foods. Examples of food comparable to the animal versions such as meat analog or cultured meat, dairy products, eggs etc. The bioreactors used may includes

- Stirred-tank bioreactor,

- Hollow fiber membrane bioreactor,

- Pond bioreactor,

- Airlift bioreactor,

- Solid-State bioreactor,

- Photobioreactor

Bioreactors used in wastewater treatment in food industries:

Huge amount of waste water released from food industries may be considered as a rich source of energy and precursor for producing valuable products. Anaerobic Digestion (AD) in a bioreactor is an efficient method for the conversion of organic degradable matters into biogas using a microbial consortium. Anaerobic reactors such as Continuous STR, Up flow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket Reactor, and an Membrane Bioreactor are employed for wastewater treatment.

Out of these, Continuous stirred reactor is the most suitable reactor type with high efficiency for conversion of wastewater to biogas. Although there are many challenges linked with AD process like complex mechanisms and byproducts formation, but the current technological advancements provide hope for improving the design of anaerobic digester plants. Future advancements such as usage of automated and controlled bioreactor systems for the anaerobic digestion process is more suitable to achieve efficient bioconversion rates.

Multiphasic bioreactors in food industries:

Those compounds that impart a specific flavour and aroma to food are considered to be high-value molecules and have high usage in the food industry, also considered as safe additives to enhance the sensorial properties of product formulations. Earlier, natural odour and flavor molecules were extracted directly from plants and food but drawbacks such as low extraction of the compound of interest and the use of toxic solvents comes into play.

Researchers have been looking for creative ways to produce Flavor and Aroma Molecules (FAMs) in recent years, by employing either biological systems for biotransformation using whole cells of microorganisms or enzymatic techniques.

The production of natural FAMs in standard bioreactors, have drawbacks such as potential toxicity of the substrates or end products to the cells, which might stunt their growth. The food sector is continuously developing multiphase bioreactors to combat this issue. Partitioning bioreactors, which employ a sequestering organic compound, are one of the most promising remedies for aroma synthesis which acts as a reservoir for the toxic product or substrate and reduces the concentration of the metabolite in the medium to levels below the cell inhibition limit. It is used for the production of high value aldehydes, terpenes, lactones, alcohols, and esters with delicate scents.


Overall, the bioreactors play a very significant role in the food industry. By increasing the productivity through controlling optimal conditions, improving scalability, automated operation, sterility, high productivity and versatility, bioreactors have the capability to change the future of food. As everything has its own drawbacks, so during complex reactions, the by-products and unreacted substrate often contaminate the desired product and reduce its purity in packed bed reactors. Similarly, high cost, technical complexity and other environmental concerns are there but research in modifying and improving the bioreactor is evolving day by day. We always believe in transforming the technology to the future and look forward to provide our customers the best quality products which will definitely help in bringing a revolution in changing the future of food.

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