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      Characterization and application of a miniature 10 mL stirred-tank bioreactor, showing scale-down equivalence with a conventional 7 L reactor.

      Biotechnology Progress

      biosynthesis, Plasmids, Kinetics, methods, instrumentation, Industrial Microbiology, Fermentation, metabolism, Escherichia coli, Equipment Failure Analysis, Equipment Design, DNA, Bioreactors

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          The aim of this study was to characterize the engineering environment of an instrumented 10 mL miniature stirred-tank bioreactor and evaluate its potential as a scale-down device for microbial fermentation processes. Miniature bioreactors such as the one detailed in this work have been developed by several research groups and companies and seek to address the current bottleneck at the screening stage of bioprocess development. The miniature bioreactor was characterized in terms of overall volumetric oxygen transfer coefficient and mixing time over a wide range of impeller speeds. Power input to the miniature bioreactor was directly measured, and from this the power number of each impeller was calculated and specific power input estimated, allowing the performance of the miniature bioreactor to be directly compared with that of a conventional 7 L bioreactor. The capability of the miniature bioreactor to carry out microbial fermentations was also investigated. Replicate batch fermentations of Escherichia coli DH5alpha producing plasmid DNA were performed at equal specific power input, under fully aerobic and oxygen-limiting conditions. The results showed a high degree of equivalence between the two scales with regard to growth and product kinetics. This was underlined by the equal maximum specific growth rate and equal specific DNA product yield on biomass obtained at the two scales of operation, demonstrating the feasibility of scaling down to 10 mL on the basis of equivalent specific power input.

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