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  • Writer's picturePhoebe Fraser

GEA’s new perfusion technology set to shake-up alt-protein production

At this year’s Anuga FoodTec event in Germany, GEA presented an entry-level perfusion platform comprising its GEA Axenic P bioreactor and the GEA kytero separator for the production of alt-proteins from microbial and cultured sources.

Perfusion is a pioneering new technology that can enhance both the productivity and resource efficiency in cell cultivation and precision fermentation for new food. These improvements are crucial to achieving more scalable, cost-effective production of alternative proteins.

Embedded in a perfusion platform comprising the GEA Axenic P bioreactor and the GEA kytero single-use separator, the technology was specially developed for aseptic pilot projects.

Perfusion technology separates cells from the depleted nutrient solution, increasing live cell density and productivity. “We see perfusion as one of the most promising technologies because it cuts the production cost of alternative proteins on several fronts,” said Tatjana Krampitz, head of new food technology management at GEA.

She continued: “What the market currently needs are reliable pilot plants that are quick to set up and meet industrial standards. Our single-use separators enable start-ups in particular to work under sterile conditions, which helps them surmount a major challenge.”

To stimulate healthy and rapid cell growth in bioreactors, it is necessary to remove growth-inhibiting metabolites such as ammonium and lactate from the culture medium. Perfusion technology allows for a portion of the depleted nutrient solution to be continuously separated in a sterile manner.

The concentrated cell solution can then be returned to the bioreactor while the separated medium is replaced with fresh, nutrient-rich medium. This keeps the cultures in optimum growth conditions at all times and ensures reproducible product quality – a key criteria for the regulatory approval of new foods. Overall, perfusion significantly improves productivity and cell density compared to conventional batch and fed-batch processes.

Rüdiger Göhmann, product manager pharma/chemicals/new food, business unit separators at GEA, commented: “For start-ups looking to validate their product ideas with cell lines of their own, kytero is a key to success. These companies do not yet have the cleaning and sterilisation facilities needed for a sophisticated process infrastructure. Yet they have to work in an aseptic environment in order to obtain reproducible results. Our single-use separator gets around this by doing without SIP and CIP processes.”

Krampitz added: “Perfusion lets us grow cells in a much smaller space. In the long term, this technology will blaze a trail when it comes to shrinking bioreactors and hence reducing both the quantity of stainless steel needed and the nutrient and cleaning media required.”

The technology holds out major potential for media reprocessing – a significant cost factor in the production of new foods and, in turn, of the end products. Reusing and purifying media would mark a major milestone on the path to reaching price parity between conventional and new foods.


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