Institute of Chemical Engineering
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ZETA project: Modular Bioreactor

Problem Statement

Scientific process understanding offers great potential to improve the stability, product quality and productivity of production processes. The regulatory bodies enforce this way of thinking by their Process Analytical Technology (PAT) and Quality by Design (QbD). Since inhomogeneity of substrates or physical process parameters can vary greatly with scale, scalability is an important issue of bioprocesses. To avoid waste of time and resources, tackling this feature in early stages of bioprocess development is recommended.


In this project the investigation of these varieties in a pilot scale (60 L) modular bioreactor system by ZETA Biopharma GmbH is the major goal. This system provides huge flexibility in process designs by easy convertibility of the analytic tool set which allows the operator to successfully plan and execute efficient bioprocesses. Since common bioreactors are specifically designed for certain fermentations this variety in mode of operation offers the opportunity of both process understanding and development and flexible industrial applications. Monitoring and controlling critical process parameters are easily possible due to several slots for integration of different sensor devices. This allows the operator to have an on-line control of rates in bioprocessing.

The following possible examples for applications are provided by the established ZETA bioreactor system:

  •  Different process modes (batch, fed-batch and continuous)
  •  Various types of cultures (cell culture, microbial culture, filamentous fungi etc.)
  •  Different process strategies and variable scales

Since the system is equipped with an on-line controller the automation of bioprocesses is to be achieved within the project.

CFD simulations have been executed to investigate possible inhomogeneities within the reactor. By performing experiments with the system setups of the simulation the validation of the results are to be achieved. After having cultivated the bacteria E. coli to successfully confirm inhomogeneity shown in the CFD simulations recent experiments’ target is to transfer the results to the production of Horse Radish Peroxidase (HRP) by Pichia Pastoris.

Safety of product quality is a key specification for bioprocesses. The second goal of this project is to tackle this requirement by establishing a cleaning validation for the ZETA bio reactor system.


Univ.Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Christoph Herwig

Dr. Jens Fricke