Mixer improves output
Since introducing Alfa Laval’s UltraPure magnetic mixer to its vaccine production process, Colorado Serum has seen its output increase beyond all expectations.DATE 2017-07-12 AUTHOR David Wiles
When Colorado Serum, a US biotechnology company that produces veterinary vaccines and medical instruments, was looking to replace its bioreactor mixing system, it chose Alfa Laval’s UltraPure Magnetic Mixer. The result is that the company is achieving a 30 to 50 percent increase in dosage levels.
“It’s amazing because we are now greatly improving our output, attributed solely to the mixer,” says microbiologist Annie Ewing.
The mixer, which features a unique levitating impeller design, is part of a bioreactor used to produce a vaccine against leptospirosis, a bacterial disease transmitted through the urine of wildlife animals such as skunks and raccoons. The disease infects cattle and swine, causing kidney and liver failure and ultimately death.
Colorado Serum is a fourth generation, family-owned company based in Denver.
In 2009, the company management was looking to replace its existing bioreactor mixing system, and while researching options it came across Alfa Laval’s magnetic mixing technology and determined that it was the perfect fit.
The bioreactor’s mixing process always starts at very low revolutions per minute (r/min), which allows the organisms to acclimatize to their new controlled environment. By eliminating friction, the UltraPure’s levitating impeller design makes it possible to mix at velocities ranging from an extremely slow 10 r/min right up to 600 r/min. Via a series of gradual aeration additions and r/min increases, the biological growth can be accelerated.
Since installing UltraPure, Colorado Serum has been mixing with greater levels of return.
“My organisms are highly aerobic and require the correct amount of oxygen at the right time to grow,” says Ewing. “We’ve found that the mixer and proper introduction of air over increments of time provide the perfect combination to increase growth to levels never seen before at Colorado Serum. Specifically, the Alfa Laval mixer has allowed us to generate a greater cell count, which equates to more doses and vaccines that we can sell. We consistently see a 30 to 50 percent increase in cell count.”
Colorado Serum, which produces a full range of large animal biologicals, large animal veterinary instruments, veterinary
diagnostics, speciality products and laboratory reagents, has reported other benefits through using Alfa Laval’s UltraPure Magnetic Mixer. Its levitating design provides better scale-up capabilities by allowing cultures to freely flow and prosper, while the eight-wing impeller, and in particular its wing shape, eliminates cell shearing while allowing cultures to move and reproduce faster. As there are no entrapment areas or crevices, the mixer can be completely drained of product and cleaning solutions, while the open design ensures full coverage by the cleaning solution and aids the removal of product residues.
The company’s next improvement will be to install a CIP bioreactor process. “We’ve achieved 50 percent yield improvements and know that by working with our process this can be improved further,” says Ewing. “Maybe 75 percent is next.”