Fermentation/ cultivation facilitiesFermentation/cultivation facilities

Contact details:

Maita Latijnhouwers
Julianalaan 67, 2628 BC Delft

The fermentation/cultivation facilities at TU Delft help our researchers to acquire a fundamental understanding of the physiology of micro-organisms under industrially-relevant conditions and to design and build micro-organisms with novel characteristics (metabolic engineering). Additionally, the infrastructure is used in research aimed at improving our understanding of microbial diversity and complexity, and at designing processes contributing to a sustainable society. In addition, the facilities help train our BSc en MSc students to become fully-qualified Life Science and Technology professionals. Using these state of the art facilities, the students obtain a very strong background in fermentation and process technology. Besides, we offer post-graduate training to professionals from academia and industry through the course programme of BSDL (http://biotechnologycourses.nl).

Researchers in the Department of Biotechnology use the fermentation infrastructure to answer research questions around growth, product formation, and robustness, as well as other aspects of central metabolism, and cell physiology of industrial micro-organisms. A wide range of organisms is accommodated: yeasts, filamentous fungi, bacteria. The current facilities only support experimentation at low throughput (large bioreactors, high personal and financial investment per reactor). Considerable financial investment is required to bring the throughput to the scale of throughput required in modern-day microbiology (refer to HiTMicro?). The infrastructure allows for computer-controlled cultivation in terms of temperature, addition of gas and nutrients, under steady-state or dynamic conditions with online data acquisition for gas analysis, pH, dissolved-oxygen concentrations. Cultivations are performed under anaerobic and aerobic conditions. The infrastructure comprises bioreactors in a range of sizes (1L, 2 or 3L, 7L, 15L, 20L, 42L, 150L), and a variety of columns reactors (e.g. bubble columns). Gas supply, pumps supplying agents and feeds, temperature, and agitation are all computer-controlled using so-called biocontrollers. Often the bioreactor and control unit are integrated in a single system. The department owns separate set-ups for the research labs and for practical labs, but both are of the same type.
The department of Biotechnology is equipped with infrastructure for analysis of fermentation products and feeds. This includes, amongst others, liquid and gas chromatography mass spectrometers (LC-MS and GC-MS), a wide range of HPLC and GC systems, three NMR systems, sequencing infrastructure, and microscopes. The analytical equipment is not included in this landscape analysis.