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June 01, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 11)

Fermentation Firm Embraces Sustainability

Bioengineering Touts Customized Stainless Steel Systems as Benefiting Bottom Line & Environment

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    Bioengineering’s bioequipment division manufactures standard equipment for fermentation and cell cultivation from lab to pilot scale.

    Can technology that is environmentally friendly be equally friendly to the bottom line? Bioengineering in Wald, Switzerland, believes it can.

    The company has been making stainless steel fermentors since 1972, at which time no such equipment was available for most applications, according to professor Sebastian Niklaus, quality unit manager. “Product development meant just making what was needed. Today product development is a complex, interdisciplinary, and time-consuming process,” he says.

    “Our approach is efficiency with resources and consciousness concerning waste. That has always been a concern for the founders of Bioengineering. Switzerland is conscious of environmental issues, so green technology came naturally.”

    “Customer-specific, upgradable steel fermentors represent progress,” adds Karin Koller, scientific assistant. “Sustainability means resourcefulness, as well as developing the innovation to ensure product quality, enhance product yields, and thus ensure economic success.”

    Dr. Niklaus notes that the current product line includes fermentors and equipment from the laboratory, pilot, and up to production scale for microbial, cell culture, and extremophile applications. “The emphasis, however, is on customized equipment and professional production applications.” 

    The bioengineering division of the company designs and builds customized fermentation and cell-cultivation plants. The bioequipment division manufactures standard equipment for fermentation and cell cultivation from lab to pilot scale. Vessel sizes from 1 to 3,000 L facilitate the upscaling of newly developed processes in several steps up to the actual production scale.

    Reactor types include airlift fermentors, photo bioreactors, enzyme membrane reactors, fluidized bed reactors, high-pressure/high-temperature fermentors, loop safety fermentors, NMR reactors, solid substrate fermentors, or cell culture reactors. Bioequipment also provides a full range of peripherals, fermentation accessories, probes and measuring systems, components, and spare parts.

    Individual, process-oriented design of automation and control systems is the task of the biocontrol division, which designs fully automated high-tech plants equipped with high-precision measurement and control technology.

    BioQS develops and complements the quality assurance manual, prepares the validation protocols, and monitors their application in practice.

    The key to success, says Dr. Niklaus, has been stainless steel fermentors that have proven themselves over the years. The modular components make the fermentors easy to upgrade, thus improving production processes in a sustainable way. While some people argue that disposable fermentors require less cash outlay and installation time and eliminate cleaning requirements, Dr. Niklaus maintains that an integrated, modular stainless steel fermentation system has a number of advantages.

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