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February 15, 2011 (Vol. 31, No. 4)

Anaerobic High-Throughput Fermentation

New Microscale Technology with Online Monitoring Facilitates Processes for Biofuel Applications

  • In recent years, many microbioreactor strategies have been developed for aerobic fermentations. Microbioreactors based on bubble columns, miniaturized stirred tanks, and simple microplates are all commonplace. These reaction platforms facilitate high-throughput operations, and in many cases, also offer online process information to advance fermentation studies in systems and synthetic biology as well as in bioprocess development.

    In contrast, very few techniques have been developed for anaerobic fermentations. Available products include several microfluidic devices developed in academia and microplates, which are commonly used to study anaerobic organisms and processes.

    Currently, detailed information on anaerobic fermentation processes can only be gained from fermentations in standard stirred tank reactors where an anaerobic atmosphere can easily be maintained by gassing with nitrogen or carbon dioxide. Critical process information such as online pH, temperature, and offline biomass, substrate, and product concentrations are available with these systems.

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