bioreactor (industrial fermenter) A large stainless steel tank used to grow producer microorganisms in the industrial production of enzymes and other chemicals. After the tank is steam-sterilized, an inoculum of the producer cells is introduced into a medium that is maintained by probes at optimum conditions of temperature, pressure, pH, and oxygen levels for enzyme production. An agitator mixes the medium, which is constantly aerated. It is essential that the culture medium is sterile and contains the appropriate nutritional requirements for the microorganism. When the nutrients have been utilized the product is separated; if the product is an extracellular compound the medium can be removed during the growth phase of the microorganisms, but an intracellular product must be harvested when the batch culture growth stops. Some bioreactors are designed for continuous culture.
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