College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

CoMFRE’s Dennis Vigil leads project to develop continuous bioreactor

Dennis Vigil, Reginald R. Baxter Endowed Department Chair of Chemical and Biological Engineering and CoMFRE faculty researcher, alongside Zengyi Shao, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering and Hershel B. Whitney Professor, Global Initiatives, are leading the development of a continuous bioreactor that integrates product extraction and separation into the design, so less equipment is needed to complete the process. Continuous flow operation also reduces equipment size, which in turn lowers capital costs.

The “Continuous Taylor Vortex Fermentor-Extractor Separator” will increase fermentation productivity by creating hydrodynamic environments, or Taylor vortices, conducive for microorganism growth and product extraction.

“This technology has the potential to advance the industry by lowering barriers to the broader adoption of biomanufacturing methods,” says Vigil.

The project is supported by BioMADE, a Manufacturing Innovation Institute sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense, that aims to propel new biotechnology products from the lab to the commercial market.