Gas Flow Control for Bioreactors

Optimizing Bioreactor Production

Bioreactors are used in a growing number of applications, from producing bio-adaptive medicines or environmentally friendly fertilizers and pesticides, to brewing beer, refining ethanol and treating wastewater. The increase in biologics production and single use reactors has led to a need for even greater precision and flexibility in instrumentation.

Alicat Scientific’s broad range of mass flow controllers simplifies and streamlines your bioreactor development lifecycle. Using one family of instruments with your choice of communications protocols, you can test conditions at 100 sμlm and then take the same accuracy and precision through the ramp-up to pilot plants and full-scale production at 5000 slpm. Built without hot wires, these MFCs can handle the ingress of liquids without being destroyed, making them a superior choice where water tolerance and reliability are important.

Fast, Flexible & Accurate Gas Delivery

Though the industrial applications for bioreactors are diverse, all require precise control of the gas inputs to achieve and maintain optimal growth rates for extended periods. Alicat’s Gas Select feature allows you to use any Mass Flow Controller (MFC) to manage these gases without sacrificing measurement accuracy. This in turn reduces the need to maintain separate inventories of gas-specific MFCs when  ramping up to production. This flexibility also allows for easy, fast replacement of units during calibration or service.  If you are adding or removing bioreactors on the same gas line, you can set an Alicat MFC to maintain a constant pressure throughout the line while still monitoring or totalizing mass flow. Standard integrated displays make setup and data collection in the lab or troubleshooting in the plant fast and easy.

Controlling the Head Space

In certain reactions, when the oxygen in the head space above the biomatter medium is maintained at a higher pressure, the oxygen molecules more easily interact with the biomatter below. This condition can be achieved by using an Alicat backpressure controller at the outlet of the bioreactor to maintain an elevated pressure within the reactor. If you also want to monitor or totalize the outgassed mass, an Alicat MFC can be configured to control the backpressure while at the same time measuring the gas flow. Alternatively, you can introduce additional oxygen directly into the headspace via a micro-scale mass flow controller running at mere milliliters per minute. Either way, you get the fast, accurate and reliable control Alicat is known for.

Monitoring & Recording Bioreactor Gas Output

Applications like methane production or hydrogenation can benefit from comparing the mass of gas added to the bioreactor with the mass that has been outgassed. User-selectable units of true mass and the totalization function make it fast to compare these numbers without cumbersome conversions.

Alicat COMPOSER™ Gas Select / Mix Calibration Firmware allows the flexibility to recalibrate the meter in real time as gas concentrations change, or in response to gas composition updates from a gas analyzer. Even when outgassing occurs at atmospheric pressures, the very low pressure drop of Alicat’s Whisper Series MWBs will not induce significant backpressure while quantifying outgassed mass. When your output is markedly peaked, the wide operating range of all Alicat MFCs will let you capture both the peak flow rates and the leading or trailing edges when flow is extremely low.

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