7 Bioreactor Applications


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Bioreactors are versatile pieces of equipment used in various industries for a range of applications. Bioreactors are used for research, development, and production purposes in industries such as pharmaceuticals to create vaccines, fermentation in the food and beverage industry, biofuel production, agriculture, and waste management.

Bioreactors are the backbone of modern biotechnology, allowing for the efficient and reliable production of a wide range of products. These devices are essentially vessels designed to support the growth and maintenance of living cells or organisms, providing the ideal conditions for them to carry out their functions. 

Bioreactors are used in a wide range of applications, from pharmaceuticals and food production to environmental remediation and biofuels. Therefore, they are a critical tool for researchers and engineers looking to harness the power of living systems for a variety of purposes.

#1: Industrial Biotechnology

The field of industrial biotechnology has been growing rapidly in recent years, and bioreactors are an essential part of this progress. Bioreactors are specialized vessels used in the production of bioproducts such as enzymes, antibiotics, and biofuels. These devices provide a controlled environment that allows microorganisms, plant cells, or animal cells to grow and multiply in large quantities. In this way, bioreactors have revolutionized the production of many products that were previously difficult to obtain on an industrial scale.

In industrial biotechnology, bioreactors are used for a wide range of applications. For example, they can be used to produce biofuels from renewable resources such as corn, sugarcane, and algae. They can also be used to manufacture enzymes that are used in food processing, textiles, and paper production. In addition, bioreactors are used to produce antibiotics and other drugs that are used in medicine. With the help of bioreactors, the industrial production of these products has become more efficient and cost-effective.

One of the advantages of using bioreactors in industrial biotechnology is that they provide a highly controlled environment for the growth of microorganisms. This means that the conditions inside the vessel can be optimized for the growth of specific strains of bacteria or other organisms. The use of bioreactors also reduces the risk of contamination and ensures that the final product is consistent in terms of quality.

#2: Environmental Biotechnology

Environmental biotechnology is a rapidly growing field that uses biotechnology to solve environmental problems. Environmental biotechnology is all about finding sustainable solutions to environmental challenges.

One of the main purposes of environmental biotechnology is in the treatment of industrial waste. Bioreactors are used to treat waste by using microorganisms to break down pollutants. 

As industrial waste is a major source of pollution, it can be difficult and expensive to dispose of properly. Environmental biotechnology offers a sustainable solution to this problem by using bioreactors to treat harmful waste. The microorganisms in the bioreactor break down the pollutants in the waste, turning them into harmless substances. This process is much more sustainable than traditional methods of waste disposal, such as landfilling or incineration.

Biotechnology is also used in environmental remediation, which refers to the process of cleaning up polluted sites. This can include removing contaminants from soil or groundwater, or cleaning up spills and leaks. Bioremediation is a type of environmental remediation that uses microorganisms to break down pollutants. Bioremediation can be used to clean up sites contaminated with oil, pesticides, or other pollutants.

In addition to treating industrial waste and cleaning up polluted sites, environmental biotechnology has many other applications. For example, it can be used to create biofuels from renewable sources, such as algae or plant waste. It can also be used to create bioplastics, which are biodegradable plastics made from renewable resources. With more environmental awareness, at Atlas Scientific, we believe that the use of bioreactors in environmental biotechnology will only expand and advance. 

#3: Cell Culture: Growing And Culturing Cells 

The use of bioreactors has been particularly beneficial in culturing cells, including stem cells. Stem cells are a type of cell that can differentiate into various types of specialized cells in the body. The use of bioreactors is particularly beneficial in culturing stem cells due to their unique requirements for growth and differentiation. Bioreactors provide an ideal environment for stem cells to grow and divide, allowing researchers to produce large quantities of these cells for use in research and therapeutic applications.

One advantage of using bioreactors for cell culture is that they allow for greater control over the growth environment. For instance, the nutrient supply can be precisely monitored and adjusted to ensure optimal growth conditions for the cells. Additionally, bioreactors provide a sterile environment, reducing the risk of contamination, which is critical when culturing stem cells.

Another advantage of using bioreactors is that they can be easily scaled up or down based on the needs of the experiment or application. This allows researchers to produce large quantities of cells for use in clinical trials or other applications.

#4: Tissue Engineering In Medical Applications 

Tissue engineering is a field that has gained significant attention in the medical industry in recent years. It involves the creation of functional tissues and organs from cells, biomaterials, and biochemical factors.

The process of tissue engineering requires a controlled environment that can mimic the body’s natural conditions to promote cell growth and tissue formation. This is where bioreactors come in. Bioreactors provide the user with a controlled environment for the growth of cells or tissues. They are used extensively in tissue engineering to create functional tissues for medical applications.

The use of bioreactors has opened up new avenues in medicine and drug testing, particularly in the field of regenerative medicine like transplantation. Bioreactors are now being used to develop tissues such as skin, bone, cartilage, and organs like the liver and heart.

Bioreactors offer several advantages over traditional tissue culture methods. They provide a more controlled environment, which allows for better regulation of cell growth and differentiation. Bioreactors also allow for the continuous supply of nutrients and oxygen to cells, which is critical for their growth and survival. By providing a more natural environment for cell growth, bioreactors can produce tissues with improved functionality and higher quality, which goes above and beyond what we could do a century ago. 

#5: Food And Beverage Industries

Bioreactors have become an essential tool in the food and beverage industry, particularly in the manufacturing of fermented products. Fermentation is a process that has been used for centuries to produce various food and beverage products such as beer, wine, yogurt, cheese, and bread. However, the use of bioreactors has transformed the way people perform the fermentation process. Bioreactors provide a more precise and controlled environment for the specific microorganisms needed to grow and produce the desired product – cheese, yogurt, etc.

The use of bioreactors not only allows control over specific temperatures, pH, and oxygen levels that are critical for microorganism growth, but the use of bioreactors significantly improves the efficiency and consistency of the fermentation process, resulting in higher yields of high-quality products.

Bioreactors can be customized to suit different types of microorganisms and fermentation processes. For example, some bioreactors are designed for aerobic fermentation while others are designed for anaerobic fermentation. The ability to customize bioreactors has made it possible for food and beverage manufacturers to produce new and innovative products that were not possible before.

#6: Pharmaceutical Industry

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most important industries in the world, responsible for discovering and producing new drugs that can help millions of people. One of the most critical components of this industry is the bioreactor, which plays a significant role in the production of vaccines, antibodies, and other pharmaceutical products.

Bioreactor containers are large enough to allow the growth of microorganisms, cells, and tissues while controlling the environment. In the pharmaceutical industry, these bioreactors allow scientists to produce large quantities of active ingredients that can be used to make life-saving medications like vaccines and antibiotics. 

Bioreactors are particularly important in the production of vaccines. Vaccines are essential for preventing the spread of infectious diseases, and they work by stimulating the body’s immune system to produce antibodies that can fight off viruses and bacteria. To produce vaccines, scientists need to grow very large quantities of the viruses or bacteria that cause the disease in one localized controlled environment. This is where bioreactor vessels come in handy!

Another important application of bioreactors in the pharmaceutical industry is in the production of antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that can recognize and bind to specific molecules, such as those found on the surface of cancer cells or viruses. By producing extensive amounts of these antibodies inside the bioreactor vessel, scientists can create medications that can target and destroy cancer cells or viruses without harming healthy cells. 

Most recently, bioreactors were largely involved in the cultivation of acquiring the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Bioreactors were used to develop two types of coronavirus vaccines. The two companies that utilized bioreactors to develop the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine were Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Stainless steel bioreactors are essential for cultivating large quantities of viral mRNA in the process of developing high-end vaccines like the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. This type of vaccine is unable to be cultivated in single-use bioreactors, as they cannot offer the extensive mixing and aeration required for mRNA generation and E.coli growth. 

#7: Researching The Behavior Of Cells 

Bioreactors can help research the behavior of cells and understand their metabolic pathways. By studying these pathways, scientists can gain insight into how cells function and what processes are involved in their growth and development.

Metabolic pathways are the series of chemical reactions that occur within a cell to maintain life. These reactions are essential for processes like energy production, protein synthesis, and the breakdown of waste products. 

Bioreactors provide a controlled environment for studying these pathways by allowing researchers to manipulate the conditions inside the reactor. By controlling factors such as temperature, pH, and nutrient levels, scientists can observe how cells respond to changes in their environment and how these changes affect metabolic pathways.

The behavior of cells is another crucial area of research that bioreactors facilitate. By creating an environment that closely mimics the conditions inside the body, bioreactors allow us to study how cells respond to different stimuli. This information is particularly valuable in drug development, as it can help scientists identify potential targets for new therapies. For example, a bioreactor could be used to study how cancer cells respond to different concentrations of chemotherapy drugs, allowing researchers to identify the most effective treatment options for patients. 

Does The Type Of Bioreactor Determine The Application?

To put it short, yes. Some bioreactors are not designed for certain industries. For example, a bioreactor that is used to produce toxic products like gasoline will differ from a bioreactor required to produce biofuels. 

Below we have listed the most common types of bioreactors and their common applications. 

Type Of BioreactorApplication(s)
Fluidized bed bioreactorProducing gasoline
Wastewater treatments
Industrially produced polymers
Packed bed bioreactorBiopharmaceutical industry: developing vaccines and producing antibodies and therapeutic proteins
Stirred tank bioreactorFermenting yeast, bacteria, and fungi cells
Cultivating insect and mammalian cells
Gas transfer
Treating hydrocarbon-rich industrial wastewater
Airlift bioreactorCell culturing
Pallet form fermentation
Immobilized enzyme reactions
Animal feed
Nutritional supplements
Creating single-cell cultures


Bioreactors are essential pieces of equipment that have revolutionized the way that we can support the growth and maintenance of living cells or organisms and provide the ideal condition or environment. Bioreactors are used in a wide range of applications, from pharmaceuticals and food production to environmental remediation and biofuels, making them essential tools.

If you have any questions regarding bioreactors, or which bioreactor will best suit your application needs, do not hesitate to contact us. At Atlas Scientific, we have a world-class team that is always happy to help!

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