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Keywords:

  • process control;
  • frequency content;
  • industrial fermentation;
  • Bacillus licheniformis

A new strategy for controlling substrate feed in the exponential growth phase of aerated fed-batch fermentations is presented. The challenge in this phase is typically to maximize specific growth rate while avoiding the accumulation of overflow metabolites which can occur at high substrate feed rates. In the new strategy, regular perturbations to the feed rate are applied and the proximity to overflow metabolism is continuously assessed from the frequency spectrum of the dissolved oxygen signal. The power spectral density for the frequency of the external perturbations is used as a control variable in a controller to regulate the substrate feed. The strategy was implemented in an industrial pilot scale fermentation set up and calibrated and verified using an amylase producing Bacillus licheniformis strain. It was shown that a higher biomass yield could be obtained without excessive accumulation of harmful overflow metabolites. The general applicability of the strategy was further demonstrated by implementing the controller in another process using a Bacillus licheniformis strain currently used in industrial production processes. In addition, in this case a higher growth rate and decreased accumulation of overflow metabolites in the exponential growth phase was achieved in comparison to the reference controller. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29:817–824, 2013