Bioprocessing simulations are gaining traction and sophistication in the biotech industry. Long a standard in other industries, “simulations are becoming requirements for all major design, construction, and de-bottlenecking projects,” according to Demetri Petrides, Ph.D., CEO, Intelligen(www.intelligen.com).
Bioprocess simulations were generally run by chemical engineers. Biologists and microbiologists, until recently, haven’t been exposed to what bioprocess simulations can do, points out Ian Gosling, Ph.D., CEO, ChemSim (www.chemsin.com). For companies that run batch processes once every two weeks, there has been no over-riding reason to run simulations. That is changing, though. “The FDA’s emphasis on process analytical technology is pushing people to look at statistical approaches in an effort to better understand their processes,” Dr. Gosling notes.
“The ‘modelization’ of large molecules is an emerging field,” according to Jean-Michel Pin, aspenONE product manager, Aspen Technology (www.aspentech.com). “The key to their success is flexibility and agility of tools to manage best practices regardless of the type of operations.”
AspenTech, for example, started with the Aspen BatchPlus to model small molecule behavior, Pin says. The new aspenONE Golden Batch Profiler builds upon that history to provide better tools for manufacturers to understand large molecular protein behavior in their reactors.
The decades of data accumulated in other industries, however, either don’t exist for biotech or aren’t well-tested. Hence, the big challenge for users is accumulating the appropriate data, including processing times and quantities, states Dr. Gosling. “Not all the data is in the same place. Therefore, effort goes into the initial development without much payback until you’ve collected all the data and put it into the system.
“ChemSim runs a whole range of simulation applications, from the simplest to dynamic models,” Dr. Gosling says. He’s seeing a wave of interest in large-scale processes, including biorefineries, which look at capital equipment on a much larger scale. Other projects are geared to fuel cells and biofuels, as well as biotech.