• bioreactor;
  • oxygen transfer;
  • dynamic method


Several methods are available for determining the volumetric oxygen transfer coefficient in bioreactors, though their application in industrial bioprocess has been limited. To be practically useful, mass transfer measurements made in nonfermenting systems must be consistent with observed microbial respiration rates. This report details a procedure for quantifying the relationship between agitation frequency and oxygen transfer rate that was applied in stirred-tank bioreactors used for clinical biologics manufacturing. The intrinsic delay in dissolved oxygen (DO) measurement was evaluated by shifting the bioreactor pressure and fitting a first-order mathematical model to the DO response. The dynamic method was coupled with the DO lag results to determine the oxygen transfer rate in Water for Injection (WFI) and a complete culture medium. A range of agitation frequencies was investigated at a fixed air sparge flow rate, replicating operating conditions used in Pichia pastoris fermentation. Oxygen transfer rates determined by this method were in excellent agreement with off-gas calculations from cultivation of the organism (P = 0.1). Fermentation of Escherichia coli at different operating parameters also produced respiration rates that agreed with the corresponding dynamic method results in WFI (P = 0.02). The consistency of the dynamic method results with the off-gas data suggests that compensation for the delay in DO measurement can be combined with dynamic gassing to provide a practical, viable model of bioreactor oxygen transfer under conditions of microbial fermentation. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2011