Optimization and scale up of industrial fermentation processes
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To increase product yields and to ensure consistent product quality, key issues of industrial fermentations, process optimization and scale up are aimed at maintaining optimum and homogenous reaction conditions minimizing microbial stress exposure and enhancing metabolic accuracy. For each individual product, process and facility, suitable strategies have to be elaborated by a comprehensive and detailed process characterization, identification of the most relevant process parameters influencing product yield and quality and their establishment as scale-up parameters to be kept constant as far as possible. Physical variables, which can only be restrictedly kept constant as single parameters, may be combined with other pertinent parameters to appropriate mathematical groups or dimensionless terms. Process characterization is preferably based on real-time or near real-time data collected by in situ and on-line measurements and may be facilitated by supportive approaches and tools like neural network based chemometric data analysis and modelling, clarification of the mixing and stream conditions through computational fluid dynamics and scale-down simulations. However, as fermentation facilities usually are not strictly designed according to scale-up criteria and the process conditions in the culture vessels thus may differ significantly and since any strategy and model can only insufficiently consider and reflect the highly complex interdependence and mutual interaction of fermentation parameters, successful scale up in most cases is not the result of a conclusive and straight-lined experimental strategy, but rather will be the outcome of a separate process development and optimization on each scale. This article gives an overview on the problems typically coming along with fermentation process optimization and scale up, and presents currently applied scale-up strategies while considering future technologies, with emphasis on Escherichia coli as one of the most commonly fermented organisms.