What are bioreactors?

A bioreactor is a manufactured device where a biological reaction is carried out. It is a closed system used for bioprocessing, that supports the growth of cells or tissues. The process can be aerobic or anaerobic. Bacterial reactions generally take place in fermenters, whereas the growth of cells occur in a bioreactor. Bioreactors are usually cylindrically shaped, and range in different sizes from litres to cubic metres. They are commonly made of stainless steel.

Bioreactors are used for making pharmaceutical products such as antibiotics and insulin. They are sterile vessels with temperature controllers and gassing facilities required for starting a biochemical reaction. Control over temperature, moisture, pH level, oxygen levels and stirring rate will yield the most suitable conditions necessary for maximised cell growth and productivity.

Stages in a Bio-Process:

There are three main stages to a bio-process – these consist of; upstream processing, bioreaction and downstream processing to change the raw material to a finished product.

  • Upstream Processing:

    The raw material is either from a biological or non-biological origin. Firstly, it is changed to a more suitable form for processing. This is completed in the upstream processing stage. This stage involves;

  1. Chemical hydrolysis
  2. Preparation of liquid medium
  3. Parting of particulate
  4. Air purification
  5. Other preparatory operations
  • Bioreaction:

    After upstream processing, the resulting material is moved to one or more bioreaction stages. The bioreactors form the base of the bioreaction stage. The bioreaction stage consists of three operations;

    1. Production of biomass
    2. Metabolise biosynthesis
    3. Biotransformation
  • Downstream Processing:

    For the next stage of the process, the material which was created in the bioreactor needs to be further processed to change it to a more useful form. This process consists of physical parting operations which comprise of;

    1. Solid liquid separation
    2. Adsorption
    3. Liquid-liquid extraction
    4. Distillation
    5. Drying

Types of Bioreactor Processes:

There are three main types of bioreactor processes which are used these are, batch, continuous, and fed-batch.

  • Batch Bioreactor Processes:

    Batch bioreactor processes involves filling the bioreactor with medium and inoculum and working the reactor without adding nutrients or medium until after the growth profile is complete.

  • Continuous Bioreactor Processes:

    Continuous bioreactor processes involve the reactor being continually fed nutrients and medium into the vessel, as the reactor is continually harvesting material. As there is material constantly being collected, continuous processes can result in bigger volumes of harvested material and longer bioreactor campaigns. The downside to longer bioreactor campaigns is that it significantly increases the possibility of contamination.

  • Fed-Batch Bioreactor Processes:

    Fed-batch bioreactor processes are the most common reactor processes used. The process begins with a lower starting volume and feeds nutrients and medium on a planned schedule without removing the harvest material. After the process is completed, the material is harvested for downstream processing.

Spectac International custom design bioreactors depending on the handling requirement, location and other key criteria. The manufacturing process at Spectac International is rigorously monitored to ensure the highest quality bioreactor is being produced. The bioreactor is thoroughly tested to ensure the highest possible performance is achieved.

For more information contact us today.

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