Bioprocess scale-up

The aim of the BEEM project is to create commercially viable bioproducts for large-scale industrial applications.  This requires scaling up from small quantities of bioproducts produced in the lab to large volume processes.  The BEEM team includes engineers with proven expertise in meeting the challenges of industrial scale-up.

Two types of bioprocesses will require scale-up:  production of useful cultures (e.g. cultures used directly for groundwater remediation) and production of enzymes using recombinant cultures.

The methods used to scale up culture production will be chosen based on the characteristics of the bioproduct.  Optimal growth conditions studied during the culture enrichment process will guide the selection of reactors.  BEEM researchers have access to a wide variety of equipment for growing cultures in continuous flow fermenters, including a suite of 5 L bioreactors with an automatic sampling system, pilot-scale continuous fermentation facilities and 100 L fermenters.

The BEEM team's experience to date has shown that some anaerobic cultures are best scaled up in sealed fermenters in batch mode, which helps to prevent inadvertent oxygen introduction and preserves key slow-growing community members that may be washed out in a continuous reactor system.  

For scale-up of enzyme production, E. coli transformants will be cultivated in 5 L bioreactors.  Enzyme bioproducts will be harvested and purified from the cultures at peak expression and tested with minimal purification.  The BEEM arsenal of purified enzymes and corresponding activities will be curated in a relational database designed to be easily accessed and queried by our industrial partners.  In this way, discovery of new enzyme products will be readily available for application by Canadian industries.

Pilot-scale demonstrations of microbial consortia and enyme applications will be performed in partnership with our industry collaborators.  Pilot-scale reactor trials for biofuel, biochemical and biopolymer synthesis will be designed based on the results of optimization tests with bench-scale reactors.  Opreating parameters will be monitored and comprehensive analysis of metabolites will be performed to identify potential mass transfer limitations at higher volumes.  For pilot-scale testing of bioremediation cultures, SiREM and Geosyntec will assist with the selection of suitable test sites using their extensive list of clients and collaborators, as was done for KB-1®.

In addition to enzyme production and biochemical characterization, BEEM researchers are also working on bioengineering plants that are "primed" for processing by expressing microbe-derived enzymes that make valuable plant components easier to extract, thus reducing the amount of energy and chemicals required. 

New industrial partners are welcomed -- please contact