One of the functions of the Laboratory of Chemical Engineering of the University of Liege is to make its expertise available to industry. The laboratory recently published the results of a hydrodynamic study inside a disposable bioreactor used for animal cell cultures in the pharmaceutical industry. Because they enable companies to avoid the rigorous process involved in cleaning and sterilizing traditional stainless steel tanks, these disposable bioreactors are being progressively viewed as serious alternatives from an economical point of view. The performance of these bioreactors still needs to be assessed, particularly considering the unusual shapes they are designed in. This is a comprehensive study which bridges the gap between fundamental research and the economic requirements of the industrial world.
Bioreactors for growing cells
This is a story that has its roots in a very precise stage of industrial vaccine production. “Traditionally, stainless steel reactors are used for animal cell cultures”, continues Dominique Toye, a lecturer at the Chemical Engineering Laboratory of the University of Liege. “Clearly, these are not jet engines. It would be more accurate to compare them to tanks or to large saucepans with a capacity of between 50 liters to several cubic meters. We call them “reactors” simply because they are containers in which we perform “reactions” on an industrial scale. These reactions can be chemical, biochemical or biological”.
(1) Marie-Laure Collignon, Laurent Droissart, Angélique Delafosse, Sebastien Calvo, Steven Vanhamel, Roman Rodriguez, Tom Claes, Fabien Moncaubeig, Ludovic Peeters, Michel Crine, Dominique Toye, Hydrodynamics in a disposable rectangular parallelepiped stirred bioreactor with elliptic pendulum motion paddle, Biochemical Engineering Journal, Volume 93, 15 January 2015, Pages 212–221