The project will produce versatile, heat sterilisable, micro-electronic, multi-array electrochemical sensors for the in-line selective detection and monitoring of alcohols (especially ethanol) and sugars in fermentation media, wine, and effluents from bioreactor processes, tailored to user requirements enabling subsequent rapid progress to commercialisation.
The eventual practical aim is the optimisation of fermentation processes through closed loop feedback control, thereby conferring economic benefits of conserved energy, substrates and time. These will bring economic benefits to users of fermentation processes both in the quality of product produced and in the running and material costs of fermentation plants.
There are four main areas of work :
- development of detection strategies for sugars and alcohol;
- provision of selectivity and resistance to biofouling
through structure and materials design;
- realisation of robust, sterilisable forms suitable for scale-up manufacture;
- determination of user requirements through user groups.
Sensor Solutions Ltd will develop strategies for the direct, non-enzymatic electrochemical detection of sugars and alcohol as specified by INSAT, which are capable of realisation in a robust and sterilisable form. NMRC will develop means of fabrication of the sensor arrays and fabricate these for evaluation in turn by Sensor Solutions and INSAT. A three dimensional dual electrode strategy will employ voltage gated electrodes to achieve selective amperometric detection and alleviate sensor fouling, supplemented if necessary by polymer membranes for additional selectivity. Surface coated diamond like carbon (DLC) deposited by DIAVAC will be employed as a structural and membrane component with both selective and biofouling resistant properties. INSAT are responsible for the evaluation of these in pilot plants. NMRC will ensure that the sensor designs produced are validated against the requirements of scale-up manufacture.
Within the first year of the project, user groups from within and without the agro-food sector will be organised. Membership recruitment is designed to represent the range of potential users, such that development can be guided towards devices suitable for commercial exploitation with a minimum of technical and acceptance difficulties. The consortium has an agreed active patenting and licensing policy, and commercially significant innovations are to be protected.
The Partners form a consortium with the necessary skills and equipment. Sensor Solutions has skills in sensor design, technology transfer and project management, NMRC is skilled in micro-electronics design and fabrication, DIAVAC in the coating technology for the sensors and INSAT in user requirements in fermentation process control and technology and methods validation. Project co-ordination and management will be undertaken by Sensors Solutions, and also exploitation activities will be managed by Sensors Solutions on behalf of the consortium. These functions are central for Sensors Solutions' activities and expertise.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
EC1N 8BA London