It is well known that upstream bioprocessing is sensitive and prone to errors. As a result, an increasing number of new processes are being developed to produce biopharmaceuticals, enzymes, or biofuels more efficiently. In addition, researchers are exploring the process and attempting to gain a better understanding of the implications of programs such as PAT and QbD.
Current fermentation technologies, e.g., stirred tank fermentors, no longer meet the needs of the industry. In the past several years, there has been tremendous interest in microbioreactors as an alternative technology for accelerating bioprocess development. Shaken microtiter plates (MTPs) have garnered a lot of attention for their simplicity and high-throughput. Microtiter plates are as common and easy as shake flasks, yet they provide a high-throughput capacity and are compatible with automation.
Standard microplate formats such as 24- or 96-well plates were not developed for fermentation applications and, therefore, they provide only limited oxygen supply for aerobic fermentations. A solution is provided with the 48-well Flowerplate from m2p-labs in which well geometries have been optimized (Figure 1).
This new microplate with flower-shaped wells provides microbial cells with oxygen transfer rates (OTRs) of up to 0.2 mol/L/h, which is equivalent to a specific mass transfer coefficient kLa of 1,140 h-1. For cell culture applications, these high oxygen transfer rates are not necessary due to the slower cell metabolism, therefore, the round 48-well cell culture plates have smaller kLa values in the range of 10 to 100 h-1.
BioLector is an online measurement technique for continuously shaken microtiter plates. It was developed in the department of biochemical engineering at RWTH Aachen University by a group headed by Professor Jochen Büchs.