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European network for innovative microbioreactor applications in bioprocess development

Final Report Summary - EUROMBR (European network for innovative microbioreactor applications in bioprocess development)

EUROMBR was a project that ran from November 2013 until October 2017. The project created a platform of mobility and training of young researchers, both for PhD students and post-docs. The project was organized in customized research projects, exchanges knowhow among researchers and partners and gave the opportunity to attend at dedicated workshops and seminars, as well as in training in research based complementary skills (project management, team leadership, intellectual property rights, etc).

The main objective of the EUROMBR project was to deliver a trans-European network of industrially oriented specialists fully trained in the development and application of microbioreactor (MBR) technology to support the progress of innovative bio-based manufacturing processes. In practice, development of these bio-based manufacturing processes is very expensive and requires tremendous amounts of experimental effort:

1. During screening for new processes or applications a large number of small-scale experiments are required to identify the most suitable candidates.

2. When scaling up a process via lab to pilot to production scale, many time-consuming and expensive experiments are necessary to determine those conditions that yield the best process performance.

In the current state-of-the-art, bio-based manufacturing processes biocatalysis is increasingly applied to the production of bulk chemicals, fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. This project aimed at further promoting the use of microbioreactors (MBRs) for more efficient screening and evaluation of biocatalytic and fermentation processes. MBRs are a promising tool due to their low production cost, small working volumes, flexibility and their potential for information-rich experiments under well-controlled experimental conditions.

In the EUROMBR project, we developed further MBRs for chemical and biochemical screening with special attention to MBR parallelization and applicability for different applications. The within the EUROMBR project performed characterization of experimental uncertainty, development of reactant feeding strategies at micro-scale and coupling of microscale experimentation to automated design of experiments (DoE) documents the applicability of MBRs for chemical and biochemical research. We established a microfluidic chemo-biocatalytic reaction system that enable rapid characterization of biosynthetic pathways and chemo-enzymatic conversions, which will enhance the applicability of microfluidic enzymatic reactors for organic synthesis. This has been underpinned with immobilization methods that permit rapid and reversible binding of a range of biocatalysts, and modelling that relates the kinetic data with results from larger scales. Data processing and information management had been accomplished by developing Computation Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and mathematical modelling methods that permit prediction and interpretation of fermentation and biocatalytic processes in MBRs.

Complemented with precisely positioned fluorescence-based sensor arrays, novel nanosensor particle concepts, and integrated Raman and NIR probes, the MBRs will deliver the data rich experimentation needed for industrial applications.

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