Making the invisible visible.
At present, process mass spectrometers designed for fermentation technology can only measure from the gas phase (supply and exhaust air). The concentrations in the liquid can only be determined or estimated from the measurement data of the gas phase by means of physical equations, insofar as an equilibrium of volatile substances can be established between the liquid phase and the gas phase. Highly volatile and non-volatile substances - such as carboxylic and fatty acids - cannot be measured by means of gas mass spectrometers.
The Variolytics one. offers a solution tailored for biotechnology. A membrane module is the preferred liquid inlet for the Vario one. With the help of a peristaltic pump integrated in the Vario one., a continuous sample stream (usually 1 to 10 millilitres per minute) is taken from a fermenter, passed through the membrane module and returned to the fermenter fully automatically (bypass system). The advantage is that the membrane module can be attached to the Vario one. with a single handle and thus autoclaved, including all hoses. Vario one. is thus the first MIMS on the market designed for sterile use in biotechnology. In addition, the volatility of the substances in the sample stream can be increased, e.g. by tempering the membrane module. In addition, the size of the reaction vessel is not important. The sample stream can be taken from 5 ml vessels or 10 m³ fermenters. Furthermore, only 10 microliters per minute are transferred from the continuously flowing sample stream via the membrane into the gas phase. The loss of liquid is therefore very low. The Vario one. thus offers the best prerequisites to accompany an upscaling of biotechnological processes from laboratory to production scale. In addition, the measured values can be passed on to a superordinate process control level so that measured values from different sensors (e.g. NIR) can be combined for data evaluation. By using porous membranes, dissolved gases and larger molecules, such as alcohols, are simultaneously detected and quantified. This is not possible with PDMS membranes in this form. This means that additional sensors, such as oxygen and carbon dioxide (pO2, pCO2) sensors, can be dispensed with and the risk of contamination for fermentation is reduced. Furthermore, the data for the different substance concentrations are available in the same data quality and in real time, which facilitates data evaluation.
Variolytics initially offers the Vario one. with a liquid inlet for biotechnology. This provides users in the field of biotechnology with low-cost access to MIMS technology. At the end of 2020, the Vario two. will be offered, which enables combined measurement from the liquid and gas phase. For biotechnology, this means a big step towards fully monitored fermentations and better balancing of material conversion processes.