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Sustainable Retrofitting of Bioreactors - Achieving Higher Efficiency with Magnetic Mixing Technology

Nicole Zangl
Retrofitting of Bioreactors - Achieving Higher Efficiency with Magnetic Mixing Technology

The goal of the homogenization process in a bioreactor is to maximize the biological productivity, which can be guaranteed thanks to ideal mixing conditions and short mixing times. ZETA provides a wide range of magnetic agitators, which have been tested with renowned research institutes and industrial customers in order to meet the high requirements of aseptic stirring processes in the pharmaceutical industry. Magnetic mixing technology stands out with its many advantages compared to mechanically sealed agitators.

Replacing Old Agitators by State-of-the-art Magnetic Mixing Technology

ZETA’s Mixing Technology: Productivity is Guaranteed

ZETA’s magnetically-driven agitators are designed and manufactured to meet the highest standard of sterile design and reliability. A central factor in achieving a production process of the highest efficiency in any stirred reactor is to ensure the greatest possible homogeneity of mixing. In order to draw up a specification for the mixing process, it is essential to accurately understand and define the hydrodynamic flow regime and the specific power inputs of the mixing rotors and their geometry.

At ZETA, mixing behavior and mixing time are evaluated by studies of computational fluid dynamics and experimental tests either at the TechCenter ZETA or at the customers site. This approach ensures that we comply with the process requirements and guarantees effectiveness.

Magnetic mixing technology stands out with its many advantages compared to mechanically sealed agitators. However, the decision to convert to modern magnetic mixing technology is not an easy one, as the requirements of the authorities require a new validation process. Our engineers are specialized in supporting the entire retrofitting process – from determining feasibility at the start through to process qualification and validation at the end – we have proven expertise in many recent projects worldwide. ZETA experts assist with the selection of the right agitator for the specific process. Special problems, requirements or demands are addressed by designing customized agitators. We see a great opportunity to make the aseptic process more reliable, safer and cost-efficient.

ZETA’s Portfolio of Magnetic Agitators

The agitator is the heart of any reactor for liquid processes. Invisible, but essential for an efficient mixing process, ZETA’s magnetically-driven agitators have proven their functionality in many stirring processes worldwide. For an even distribution of temperature and concentration gradients in aqueous solutions, ZETA offers a variety of types of bottom-mounted and top-mounted magnetic agitators. Bottom-mounted magnetic agitators are state of the art for low-viscosity liquids in pharmaceutical and biotechnology production. The compact design, low maintenance and high reliability guarantee trouble-free production.

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Magnetic mixers are particularly suitable for aseptic processes, as the motive force is transmitted via magnetic fields without a physical contact between the motor and the impeller. This means that there is no steam condensate necessary. The hermetic sealing between the vessel atmosphere and the environment is ensured by the weld plate. The benefit lies in the fact that there is no contact between the sterile interior of the reactor vessel and the unsterile space outside, which reduces the risk of contamination associated with the mechanical seal of shaft-driven agitators.

ZETA offers a standard range of magnetic agitators as well as designs and manufactures customized versions. Features including the dimensions or type of the impeller and the rotational speed can be modified to perform customer-specific mixing tasks. Working volumes vary between the different types and can range from 2 to 60.000 L.

Retrofitting Your Fermenter with Magnetic Agitators

ZETA experts assist with the selection of the right agitator for the specific process. Special problems, requirements or demands are addressed by designing customized agitators.

In 2018, a customer in the United States wished for an upgrade of its multipurpose reactor for cell cultivation, mainly to reach a higher hygienic standard. The existing vessel had been a conventional agitator system with a mechanical seal. A Rushton or low-shear mixing shaft configuration had to be exchanged manually according to the process requirements. ZETA designed and constructed an agitator which could be operated by one drive unit while providing agitator configurations for two different mixing applications fitting on one single welding flange. This customized solution allowed a simplification of the equipment.

With their ample expertise, ZETA engineers have provided support for a whole range of retrofitting projects in the past few years. In some cases, clarifying the dimensions of the existing vessel and the design of the existing agitator meant a particularly complex challenge for the engineers. Based on limited information, such as hand-drawn sketches from the customer, they had to adapt the design of the new magnetic agitators to fit onto the welding flanges of the existing systems without impacting the existing vessel layout. Whatever the challenge, all customers were highly satisfied with the solutions provided by ZETA.

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No matter what motivation our customers have for their retrofitting projects, ZETA always brings the additional boost of sustained competitive leadership through state-of-the-art equipment, and the investment pays off in every case.

On 24.06.2020, ZETA will host a webinar "Higher Product Yield by Retrofitting" in which the subject of retrofitting will be discussed in detail.

Register Now!

Advantages of Magnetic Agitators

  • No micro-contamination – no product loss
  • Outstanding hygienic design
  • Reduced production costs
  • No steam condensate necessary
  • Safe and easy maintenance

ZETA GmbH
ZETA GmbH

The ZETA Group designs, builds, automates and qualifies plants for aseptic liquid production processes in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.

The engineering portfolio ranges from concept design for pilot plant and basic engineering, all the way through to detail engineering, automation, installation and commissioning. The interdisciplinary project team, composed of biotech experts, process, mechanical and automation engineers, develop fast-track-projects globally. Process characterization, scaling of processes and process design are the key competences of ZETA – from lab to industrial scale.

Close to the customer ZETA provides innovative solutions along the production process of high value APIs. ZETA workflows are based on long-term experience as well as on scientific approach. Magnetic mixing technology and process-controlled freeze & thaw systems for optimal agent storage and transport complete the ZETA product portfolio.

With its ten subsidiaries in Europe and a highly qualified staff of some 700 people, ZETA is among the leading suppliers in the industry. Best-in-class consultancy by ZETA moves projects towards success. ZETA experts design, build and automate production plants at three European sites, carry out GMP qualification and support operations with service packages along the entire service life of the equipment.