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Device for sampling and feeding a bioreactor under controlled atmosphere

Researchers of INRA’s Laboratory of Environmental Biotechnology have developed a functional device that enables sampling of solid or multiphasic materials within a controlled atmosphere reactor. Reciprocally, it allows feeding the said reactor with materials, without modifying the phases’ composition.

Diagram of the sampling device under controlled atmosphere, comprising the reactor (green), the sealing system (yellow) and the sampling system (blue). © INRA, Renaud ESCUDIE
Updated on 01/10/2014
Published on 01/10/2014

To carry out some experimental studies, it may be necessary to sample solid materials from the reaction medium. A technical lock has been found for the sampling in heterogeneous media containing solid elements, when the composition of the gas phase has to be preserved. Currently, the only solution is to open the reactor. Besides oxygen introduction, this operation also alters the gas phase composition, which impacts the gas balances and disrupts the biological reactions in progress.

A group of researchers coordinated by Dr. Renaud Escudié within INRA’s Laboratory of Environmental Biotechnology has recently developed an innovative system in order to extract solid samples from a reaction medium, without disturbing the gas phase. This system is made of three parts:

  • A reactor containing the solid and/or liquid reaction medium.
  • A sealing system consisting of a valve which is fixed to the orifice of the reactor. It ensures the tightness of the system during the sampling and reactor operation.
  • A sampling system consisting of a removable rod that is fixed to the sealing device and has a collection chamber allowing to extract a sample during the core drilling of the reaction medium. For safety, the small volume of the collection chamber is filled with inert gas.

The sampling device under controlled atmosphere has been validated by INRA during solid-phase fermentation experiments.
The main advantages of the invention are:

  • A sealed system that preserves the gas phase composition
  • The sealing system is dissociated from the sampling system (one sampling system may be used for several reactors)
  • The possibility of adding materials to the reaction medium via the removable rod
  • A septum integrated to the sealing system also allows gas sampling
  • Easy-to-use appliance
  • Bespoke device
  • Adaptability to various types of reactors
  • Low cost-in-use (use of standard components)
  • Suitable configuration for analyzing bioconversions by different microorganisms - pure strain culture or microbial consortium – under confined or controlled atmosphere
  • Applications in various industrial sectors

The sampling and feeding device should interest various industrial sectors - chemistry, environment, biotechnology, food, etc. – for the monitoring of reaction media. For example, this invention can be applied to the monitoring of the degradation of waste in an anaerobic solid-phase fermenter, while maintaining anaerobic conditions.

INRA Transfert is seeking industrial partners in order to develop this patented technology through licence or licence option with a R&D program (French patent application N°1354493 filed by INRA on May 17, 2013).

Scientific contact(s):

  • Dr Renaud ESCUDIE UR 0050 LBE, Laboratoire de Biotechnologie de l’Environnement - INRA Narbonne
Licensing-out officer of INRA Transfert:
Hélène GENTY (+33 41 99 61 23 72)