Humans have been using biotechnology since ancient times. In fact, humans have been using biotechnology since the last 4000 years using the process of fermentation to make products such as bread, cheese, beer, and wine. With more research, we have been able to apply biotechnology for industrial uses as well. Today, biotechnology is used in several manufacturing processes involved in health care, food and agriculture, industrial and environmental clean-up, among others.
Biotechnology can be technically defined as ‘Application of scientific and engineering principles to the processing of materials by biological agents (like microorganism, cells, plant and animal cells, and enzymes) to provide goods and services’. In simple words, biotechnology is the use of the process of fermentation and various natural processes to produce the desired product. Modern industries have been finding various applications for fermentation and biotechnology in manufacturing processes since the 1970s. Industries make use of a bioreactor for the fermentation process. A bioreactor-fermenter is used to implement the biotechnology in an industrial setting.
A bioreactor-fermenter has three stages of processing-
Stage 1 – Upstream processing
This involves preparing the liquid medium, separating the particulate and inhibitory chemicals from the medium, sterilization and air purification among others.
Stage 2 – Fermentation
This is the important part of a bioreactor where the actual ‘work’ or ‘processing’ happens: the conversion of substrates to the desired product with the help of biological agents like microorganisms.
Stage 3 – Downstream processing
The final stage involves the separation of cells from the fermentation broth, purification and concentration of desired product and waste disposal or recycles, if possible.
Of the above, the fermentation stage can constitute between 5-50% of the total fixed and operating costs. Hence, an optimal design is necessary for the efficient technological and economic performance of the bioreactor. Bioreactor-fermenter can be classified based on different criteria-
- Type and form of biocatalyst
- Free cells in submerged cultures
- Carried bound/immobilized cells/enzymes
- Retention/recirculation of biocatalyst
- Mode of operation
- Perfect mixing
- Partial mixing
- No mixing
- Energy input and aeration
A manufacturer will select the right bioreactor-fermenter for their processes keeping in mind the above factors and workings.
Propack technologies is a leading manufacturing company in India. We make the implementation of biotechnology easy and simple. Our state of the art designs help our customers leverage the best of biotechnology in industries and boost their manufacturing capabilities.