Points to consider when buying a bench-top bioreactor:
1. Do you need special configurations or vessels to optimize your work?
Examples inlcude growth of photosynthetic organisms, solid state fermentation, growth of extremophiles and cell culture. The type of culture may also indicate what sort of peripheral items you need. High density cultures of bacteria or yeast are likely to require additional cooling from a recirculating chiller.
2.. What size of vessel is optimal for my needs?
Bench-top bioreactors cover a range from 250 mL to 10 litres working volume. The vessels are typically glass with a stainless steel top plate. Above this size, considerations such as handling, safety and sterilization make a steel vessel with in-situ sterilization a better option. You can often start small and add larger vessels later if needed.
3. Do I need to run multiple experiments in parallel?
This includes screening, process optimization and scale-down applications. A bank of vessels running in parallel will produce statistically valid results more quickly than serial cultures. Batch to batch variations are limited and local controllers designed for this application can make operation much simpler.
4. How frequently will the system be used?
Occasional use or running long-duration experiments mean handling considerations are not so critical. However, if the system is to be used for fresh batches several times per week for most of the year, a great deal of time can be saved by the handling characterisitics of the bioreactor. Eliminating time-consuming jobs such as instaling pump tubing multiple times add up to many productive hours saved over a year.
5. How can I guarantee the bioreactor will work for my application?
This is not as simple as taking a pre-existing recipe and applying it. Many factors are not related to bioreactor hardware e.g. clones which are shear-sensitive or slow growing or have specific nutritional demands. The best form of security you can have is to use a well-characterised and specified system, with options and choices which increase your chances of sucees «out of the box». These include
- Good mixing and oxygen transfer characteristics
- A range of motors and impellors for low speed, high-torque or low shear
- Flexible configurations for gassing, feeding and temperature control
6. Do I need qualification for bench-top systems ?
That depends on your application. The answer is susually «no». However, if you indent to use the system as part of scale-up trials for a process to be approved by regulatory authorities or for small-scale production of therapeutics etc for human use then this would probably be necessary.