Introduction The large scale production of biological materials requires the use of bioreactors. Bioreactors can also be used in biologically mediated chemical conversions and waste management. Traditionally, bioreactors are difficult to fully automate and require labor intensive maintenance to function normally over long periods of time. Technology description A novel design bioreactor and process for automating protein production has been invented by researchers at the University of Washington. The method features microorganisms immobilized within a polymeric matrix. This system could be used for chemical conversions or bioremediation. The advantages of this system include high throughput and reduced maintenance due to the cells being embedded in a matrix. The matrix allows for a high cell surface area to liquid media ratio. This high ratio amplifies production of biological materials, increases amounts of converted chemicals, and allows more waste to be processed. Additionally, the fact that the cells are separated from the media allows for a less intensive product isolation process and limited loss of bioactivity. Business opportunity This discovery describes a more efficient bioreactor that could be used for a variety of purposes. Stage of development A prototype bioreactor was developed using the thin-film technology.
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