Product Details Supplier Info More products

I4Innovation has combined four Mitsubishi Electric Alpha controllers with the GT15 HMI to monitor and adjust pumps, propellers, inlet and outlet valves and multiple sensors in bioreactors.

In a parallel process, the control system also manages the production of nitrogen and oxygen from atmosphere for use in the reactor.

Lee Pettitt, control engineer, I4Innovation, said: ‘Cell cultures are vital in many fields of modern medicine, from pharmaceuticals to skin grafts and organ transplants, dialysis and high intensity neonatal procedures.

‘There are four basic types of culture: insect, mammalian, yeast and E.coli, each with literally thousands of variations to meet specific needs for individual cases,’ he added.

Pettitt said the GT15 HMI can store precise recipes that are also used for real-time process control and comprehensive data logging and digital signature management to meet the stringent requirements of International Standard CFR21 part 11.

In use, the various components of the chosen recipe are introduced to the reactor via inlet valves and are circulated through an aqueous media at an optimal rate to promote growth of the culture.

Temperature is usually critical, as is pressure, dissolved oxygen and pH on occasion.

Usually oxygen, nitrogen or carbon dioxide is introduced at a controlled rate in order to promote growth.

Impellers keep the solution circulating and measurements are taken from several monitoring points to constantly check on conditions for growth.

Temperature, pressure and exposure to light can also be monitored and adjusted.

Beside the reactors, a pressure swing absorption system can be activated to separate and compress nitrogen and/or oxygen from the atmosphere for use in cell growth.

‘Most other bioreactors use bottled gases, but this leads to an extra cost, plus a considerable bottle management effort,’ said Pettitt.

‘This gives users of our equipment a distinct advantage, although we still have to use bottles for carbon dioxide,’ he added.

The bioreactors have 32 inputs and 24 outputs, plus eight analogue outputs, all achieved with Mitsubishi Alpha mini controllers, which simplifies the hardware setup.

This means it is far less costly to buy, run and maintain, and easier to reconfigure if user requirements change.

‘There is a clarity to the way Alphas are programmed and I have converted several older control systems from larger PLCs to Alphas – usually improving performance,’ said Pettitt.

Part of this success is due to the fact that he often uses them in conjunction with state-of-the-art HMI, as is the case with the bioreactors.

I4Innovation make the bioreactors housings in house using a fabrication technique, rather than buying in moulded ones.

‘We put the HMI in a separate housing, which is pivot mounted to the main housing so that operators can adjust the viewing angle,’ said Pettitt.

Pettitt is currently assessing the new generation Mitsubishi GT16 HMI, which has, among other advances, a large memory and high-resolution screen.

‘We are going to do a video version of the user manual and embed it into the GT16,’ he said.

‘This will allow bioreactor operators complete autonomy, so in theory anybody will be able to plug them in and teach themselves everything they need to know,’ he added.

Mitsubishi Electric Automation Systems

View full profile