BIOMAC : Bioreactor for innovative mass bacteria culture


Prof. Paul Péringer, Marc Deront, Milena Lapertot

Funding agency

CTI The Innovation Promotion Agency, Berne, Switzerland

Project period

November 2001 – September 2006


Dr. Oliver Hayden, TU Wien, Austria; Prof. Milan Polakovic, Slovak Technical University, Bratislava, Slovak Republic; Enga Luye, Belair Biotech Ltd., Geneva, Switzerland; Dr. Ruben Jorge, Sociedade De Innovacao Ambiental Lda., Porto, Portugal.


The aim was to upgrade conventional cultivation techniques for the mass production of bacterial communities. The microorganisms will perform a cost-effective aerobic biodegradation of target xenobiotics and organic pollutants.


An innovatory technology called ‘Substrate Pulse Batch’ (SPB) allows a better stability and improved biomass productivity on defined mixtures of xenobiotics, especially when volatile organic compounds (VOC) are concerned. The SPB has been considered as a special limit case of a conventional, semi-continuous extended culture operation in which the culture volume remains virtually constant when feeding the substrate in a gaseous, solid or undiluted or very concentrated liquid form. The essential difference is that the substrate is not continuous with a predetermined or controlled, time-dependent profile, but intermittent, i.e. injected by repeated pulses in the reactor.

The developed innovative technology, using a new strategy based on the modeling and computer control of the SPB has overcome the drawbacks of the conventional cultivation techniques. The SPB have to date been successfully tested on TEX (toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) and chlorinated aromatics at laboratory scale. The challenge was to develop a knowledge-based mathematical model which described and predicted the dynamic behavior of the mixed bacterial population under different operational conditions. An on-line control strategy has been designed in order to optimize the productivity of cell-mass and implemented in a small-scale prototype reactor using online sensor systems.