• Pichia pastoris;
  • fermentation;
  • methanol;
  • automated;
  • feed system


Large-scale fermentation of Pichia pastoris requires a large volume of methanol feed during the induction phase. However, a large volume of methanol feed is difficult to use in the processing suite because of the inconvenience of constant monitoring, manual manipulation steps, and fire and explosion hazards. To optimize and improve safety of the methanol feed process, a novel automated methanol feed system has been designed and implemented for industrial fermentation of P. pastoris. Details of the design of the methanol feed system are described. The main goals of the design were to automate the methanol feed process and to minimize the hazardous risks associated with storing and handling large quantities of methanol in the processing area. The methanol feed system is composed of two main components: a bulk feed (BF) system and up to three portable process feed (PF) systems. The BF system automatically delivers methanol from a central location to the portable PF system. The PF system provides precise flow control of linear, step, or exponential feed of methanol to the fermenter. Pilot-scale fermentations with linear and exponential methanol feeds were conducted using two Mut+ (methanol utilization plus) strains, one expressing a recombinant therapeutic protein and the other a monoclonal antibody. Results show that the methanol feed system is accurate, safe, and efficient. The feed rates for both linear and exponential feed methods were within ±5% of the set points, and the total amount of methanol fed was within 1% of the targeted volume. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2011