This is a view of a LF-20 liter Chemap AG Inc. fermenter (center) that has been interfaced with a Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) MINC-11 computer (right). This system was located in the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering (LORRE) at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.
This system is also interfaced with a mobile self-contained off-gas analysis unit (left) for fermentation pilot plants. Continuous monitoring of exhaust gas for CO2 and O2 content is a routine method used for mass balances in laboratory, pilot plant, and production fermenters. Since a dedicated system of CO2 and O2 analyzers for each fermenter is expensive, the unit shown (left) is mobile thus can be moved to the bioreactor where it is most needed. A programmable clock is utilized for periodic automatic recalibration of the gas analyzers with analyzed gas mixtures. Because the analyzers, clock, and calibration gas cylinders are all mounted on one compact mobile unit, this off-gas system can easily be moved from one fermenter to another within the pilot plant. This mobile cart also has a spectrophotometer modified for continuous monitoring of optical density of fermenter contents. This measurement is continuously sent to the DEC computer where it is converted to a dry cell weight basis for mass balancing purposes (14, 32, 87, 98, 136, 195, 258).
Process mass spectrometers make more efficient use of space and time, however they cost in excess of $80,000 each and were limited to a few reactors each due to the purge time required to remove off-gas traces from the last reactor monitored in the analysis sequence. This situation is changing with time, however, as costs of process analysis equipment decreases, and their analysis capabilities become more flexible, efficient, and faster.
Shown here is an LSL Biolaffitte 20 liter fermenter instrumented with microprocessor controllers to control temperature, air flow, RPM, pH by addition of acid, alkali solution, or ammonia, anti-foam, dissolved O2 by agitation and/or addition of O2, substrate weight scales, and control of a constant level of methanol in the broth. All parameters measured and controlled with this fermenter were linked to a data logging and supervisory computer system located in the pilot plant control room.
This system was used for several years for pilot scale fermentations using a thermophylic methylotroph, utilizing methanol as a substrate, producing the amino acid lysine as an animal feed product. Fermentations like these and others like a Streptomyces sp. producing the antibiotic Mitomycin or a different Streptomyces fermentation producing Aristeromycin were done in the Bioprocess Technology Institute (BPTI) at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN (73, 87, 136, 195, 226, 230).
In 1989 Pierre Guerin purchased Biolaffitte and the fermentation division became Pierre Guerin/Biolaffitte. www.pierreguerin.com
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