Factors to Consider in the Design and Construction of a Fermenter

Cost is a significant factor to be considered in the design and construction of a fermenter – since profit making is a vital aspect of industrial microbiology. If the fermenter is not constructed to suit the process for which it is intended for, it will affect the cost of production and waste available resources that should be channeled to other uses. In designing a fermenter, different disciplines including engineering, physics, mathematics, economics, biology and microbiology are usually involved. The design of a fermenter therefore involves the co-operation of different experts in different fields including microbiology, biochemistry, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and costing. The microbiologists controls and monitors the physiology and the metabolism of the organism to be used for the fermentation process. Biochemists help to regulate enzyme processes while the chemical engineers assist in the monitoring of the chemical factors associated with the fermentation process such as pH, temperature and gas development. Mechanical engineers are solely saddled with the task of designing and constructing the appropriate size of the fermentation vessel to suit the fermentation process. The costing personnel assist in ensuring that the most appropriate and feasible cost is apportioned to the entire process of constructing the fermenter. The factors to consider in fermenter design are as follows:

  • Fermenters should be designed and constructed in such a way that it requires minimal labour in operation, harvesting of byproducts, cleaning and maintenance of the vessel.
  • Fermenters should be constructed with non-corrosive stainless steel; and the inside or internal surface of the vessel should be smooth. Welds instead of flange joints should be used for constructing the internal surfaces of the fermenter.
  • The fermenter should be fitted with systems for the control of pH and temperature.
  • It should be capable of being operated aseptically for some number of days.
  • It should be reliable for long term fermentation process.
  • The fermenter should not allow too much evaporation.
  • The fermenter should be suitable for several fermentation processes.
  • It should have low power consumption.
  • It should provide adequate agitation and aeration for the organisms.


Bader F.G (1992). Evolution in fermentation facility design from antibiotics to   recombinant proteins in Harnessing Biotechnology for the 21st century (eds. Ladisch, M.R. and Bose, A.) American Chemical Society, Washington DC. Pp. 228–231.

Nduka Okafor (2007). Modern industrial microbiology and biotechnology. First edition. Science Publishers, New Hampshire, USA.

Parek S (2004). Strain Improvement. In: the motherland. The Desk Encyclopedia of Microbiology. M. Schaechter (ed.). Elsevier Amsterdam. Pp. 960-973.

Das H.K (2008). Textbook of Biotechnology. Third edition. Wiley-India ltd., New Delhi, India.

Latha C.D.S and Rao D.B (2007). Microbial Biotechnology. First edition. Discovery Publishing House (DPH), Darya Ganj, New Delhi, India.

Nester E.W, Anderson D.G, Roberts C.E and Nester M.T (2009). Microbiology: A Human Perspective. Sixth edition. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc, New York, USA.

Steele D.B and Stowers M.D (1991). Techniques for the Selection of Industrially Important Microorganisms. Annual Review of Microbiology, 45:89-106.

Pelczar M.J Jr, Chan E.C.S, Krieg N.R (1993). Microbiology: Concepts and Applications. McGraw-Hill, USA.

Prescott L.M., Harley J.P and Klein D.A (2005). Microbiology. 6th ed. McGraw Hill Publishers, USA.

Steele D.B and Stowers M.D (1991). Techniques for the Selection of Industrially Important Microorganisms. Annual Review of Microbiology, 45:89-106.

Summers W.C (2000). History of microbiology. In Encyclopedia of microbiology, vol. 2, J. Lederberg, editor, 677–97. San Diego: Academic Press.

Talaro, Kathleen P (2005). Foundations in Microbiology. 5th edition. McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., New York, USA.

Thakur I.S (2010). Industrial Biotechnology: Problems and Remedies. First edition. I.K. International Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi, India.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *