Bioreactor system for Industrial Biotechnology process development

Project: Externally funded research

Project Details


Industrial biotechnology is a core research platform at the Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University (AU). This platform will benefit greatly from an automated bioreactor system that will enable 16 simultaneous fermentations to be performed on a multi-millilitre scale (50-250ml) enabling rapid development of industrially scalable fermentation processes.

Data from this system will enable identification and testing of multi-factorial parameters critical to fermentation processes in order to optimise productivity and yield, prior to scale-up to an industrially relevant bioprocess. It will assess inhibitors produced as a result of pre-processing technologies and allow studies on microbe-microbe interactions and microbe communities. This equipment would result in a major reduction in time and expense in process optimisation and provide a step change increase in data acquisition and analysis.

Additionally this system will enable identification of pathways and metabolic networks by complementing the metabolomics and next generations sequencing data sets produced at IBERS and elsewhere. The advent of the omics era has bought about an improved understanding and modelling of microbial metabolism in traditional, academically characterised bacterial and yeast fermentation systems such as Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. However, this level of understanding rarely exceeds the scale of shake flask experimentation and pertinently may not reflect IB conditions or industrial production strains. Although tightly controlled, environmental heterogeneity for pH, temperature, rheology product titre and substrate availability is experienced in fermentation vessels during scale-up to industrially relevant volumes (multiple hundreds of litres). There is a paucity of academic and industrial knowledge on the impact of this heterogeneity on cellular physiology, metabolic pools and alterations in global gene expression of both academic model and industrial biocatalysts during scale-up.

This equipment will complement existing fermentation systems at IBERS which includes 6x1L, 4x10L, 1x30L, 2x70L and 1x250L automated, precision controlled reaction vessels, allowing for similar control on a smaller scale. Au will provide technical support and make this equipment available to both the academic and industrial community and will highlight it on web sites, equipment databases and brochures.
Effective start/end date15 Aug 201714 Aug 2018


  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/R000700/1): £389,401.20

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy


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