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Benchtop Bioreactors and Gas Flow Control

  • Benchtop bioreactors require specialized instrumentation that can offer high accuracy, precision, and repeatability
  • In addition to flow measurement and control, the Bronkhorst FLEXI-FLOW can also measure and control pressure, providing valuable feedback to bioreactor users
  • FLEXI-FLOW offers a compact design, wide flow range, and easy gas switching, which helps reduce the instrumentation required for benchtop bioreactors

Bronkhorst offers gas flow control for bioreactor manufacturers and has a gas flow controller available especially for use in benchtop bioreactors. This flexible instrument has a wide dynamic range allowing the bioreactor manufacturer to easily change flow range and switch to other gas types with one instrument. This way you can benefit from model reduction, allowing you for local stock and therefore, independency of lead times.

Most bioreactors, whether they are used for fermented food and drinks or development of vaccines and medicines, need to be supplied with gases for growing bacteria, yeast, or cells for the desired biological synthesis to take place. These gases are usually added continuously over a period of a few days to several weeks, using flow controllers.

High Accuracy Flow Instrumentation for Benchtop Bioreactors

For a reliable biological growth process, accurate, repeatable, and stable gas flows are essential. Especially in an R&D environment, a wide range of gas flow rates is necessary to investigate the best growth conditions. For benchtop bioreactors, compact gas flow instruments are desired. For manufacturers that build bioreactors on specification for customers, it is best to reduce the number of variations of flow instruments, thus counteracting obstacles in delivery time. Moreover, pressure data is needed to inform the bioreactor user about the current process conditions.

FLEXI-FLOW for Mass Flow and Pressure Measurement and Control

  • Large dynamic flow range
  • Easy switching of gas type
  • High accuracy, repeatability, and long-term stability
  • Pressure information
  • Compact design flow and pressure meter

Large Dynamic Flow Range Instrumentation

Bioreactor manufacturers would like to build reactors that are as generic as possible, to provide a system for a variety of users. Ideally, one bioreactor setup handles a wide range of gas flow rates. For this application, the FLEXI-FLOW gas mass flow controller is equipped with an unique flow sensor that measures and controls flow over a wide dynamic range (a high turndown ratio of 1:1000) in combination with excellent accuracy and compatibility with different gas types.


Easy Switching of Gas Type Reduces Bioreactor Footprint

As air, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide are the most common gases used in bioreactors, the FLEXI-FLOW has the data of these gases standard on board, so there is no need for additional calibration. Using the on-board Fluidat firmware, you can easily calculate the physical properties of gases, allowing you to reduce the number of instruments needed.

Where a typical range up to 20 ln/min with four gases has been traditionally covered by 36 models, this can be reduced to 12 models, and with four gases on board even to 3 mass flow controller models. The bioreactor manufacturer and the end-user can decide which of these gases to use by setting a parameter in the software.

Long-term Stability, High Accuracy, and Repeatability

Due to a capillary chip sensor technology combined with friction-free valve technology and electronics, the FLEXI-FLOW has an excellent accuracy, repeatability, and long-term stability. The capillary chip sensor that measures the gas flow remains very stable over the years and does not need calibration. Since the small sensor is less prone to temperature gradients, the short-term stability is very good as well.

Reduction of gas flow controllers possible

Pressure Measurement and Control with Bronkhorst FLEXI-FLOW

Pressure information is desired to inform or alarm the bioreactor user of process conditions. This accounts for gas supply pressure at the inlet and bioreactor process pressure at the outlet. Regulation of the process pressure is necessary for bioreactors to avoid breakage of the reactor. The FLEXI-FLOW gas flow controller contains pressure measurement and control at the inlet and outlet of the instrument, and as such, this smart instrument is suitable for predictive maintenance of the bioreactor system.

Compact Instrumentation for Benchtop Bioreactors

The small size of the FLEXI-FLOW flow and pressure instrument will make it a device of choice for compact benchtop bioreactors. It is incredibly small for such a powerful device, even when compared to our other compact lines of flow meters and controllers.

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