At left is a Sharples continuous flow tubular bowl centrifuge. Fermentation broth containing bacteria, yeast, or fungal mycelia is fed into the bottom of an internal rotating bowl spinning at 15,000 RPM. Due to centrifugal force the cells remain in the bowl while the clarified broth is forced out the top, into a collection funnel inside, then down the glass pipe externally on the left side. It is then pumped into the blue holding tank on the left. The product of interest could be either the cells or the clear broth only, or both. Also, it could be a protein, enzyme, antibiotic, or other biochemical that must be extracted from the cells or broth, then run through further clarification and purification steps to obtain a product of a higher desired purity.
Because centrifuges produce aerosols containing some particulates (cells, spores, mycelia, spent media, etc.), this centrifuge is inside a special harvest containment room with negative pressure. The exhaust air from this containment room is passed through a High Efficiency Particulate Air filter (HEPA). This traps the particulates and prevents them from getting into other work areas or from escaping to outdoors (14, 195, 196, 230, 255).
On the right an operator is wearing a gown, gloves, and respirator for protection from aerosols, released when opening the centrifuge housing and while harvesting the bowl contents. The operator is preparing to remove the bowl, open it and remove the cell mass, also called the "pellet".
The bowl must then be washed thoroughly of any remaining cell pellet to maintain balance during the centrifugation of the next batch. Prior to several days' storage, the bowl is washed thoroughly, soaked 1 hour in a sanitizing solution, rinsed with deionized water, then allowed to dry (98, 136, 195, 258).
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