Compact-cells membrane bioreactor for efficient bioprocesses

The overall goal of this project is to develop a generally applicable methodology for production of chemicals using membrane packedmicrobial cells at high local cell concentration, shown to have higher volume productivity and to be more robust against microbialcontamination, toxic chemicals, high osmotic stress and high concentrations of raw materials, compared to the traditional bioreactorsusing freely suspended or immobilized cells.

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In a previous project (VR, 2010-2012), we focused on developing synthetic membranesfor this goal using cell macro-encapsulation and identifying important characteristics of the membranes used in bioreactors andtesting their interaction with digesting microorganisms. It led to successful results, but needs further development which is thesubject of this project. In this project, the main objective is finding possible solutions for macro-encapsulations. Two systems will bedeveloped and examined: (a) a membrane bioreactor system using macro-encapsulated cells in form of tea-bags, (b) a membranebioreactor, in which the cells are packed between two permeable membranes. Furthermore, two types of anaerobic fermentations,i.e. bacterial digestion to biogas and yeast fermentation to ethanol will be examined during the development. However, the concept will be open to be tested for other applications in collaboration with other research groups.