By Heike Brueckner
This semester, seniors in the Chemical Engineering program are getting hands-on experience with elements of bioprocess engineering with a new experiment on cell culture and scale-up. Thanks to a generous donation of equipment from Alexion Pharmaceuticals, located in Cheshire, CT, students are getting the chance to work with industry-standard equipment and learn about the challenges of working with live cell cultures.
The new experiment serves as one of the anchors in the lab, where students spend three weeks getting a taste of the entire experience, including media preparation, sterilization techniques, small-scale batch culture, and scale-up to the two-liter bioreactor. In the bioreactor phase, the students are looking at how various parameters, including glucose concentration, agitation rate, and temperature impact the growth kinetics of their model system, E. coli, with an eye toward maximizing biomass production.
With a large number of undergraduates who have an interest in biochemical or bioprocess engineering, this new experiment will provide them with some exposure to the fundamentals of industrial biotech processes.