ABEC: customised tech protects large single-use bags

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

A pulley loading system and customised storage frame reduces damage risk to large single-use bags, says 4,000L bioreactor vendor ABEC.

The firm – which is making disposable technology twice as large as the publicised industry limit of 2,000L – said pinched, damaged bioreactor bags can lead to leaks and contamination.  

One of the main issues faced in making and using large-scale single-use bags is transferring it into the bioreactor holder, said European director of business development, Adrian Hennessy, at the BioProduction Congress last month.

“The challenge is that you have a very large amount of plastic, with an impeller inside it, that needs to be safely lifted into a stainless steel holder,” ​he told us.

ABEC has designed a system that enables the bioreactor bag – or disposable container (DC) as the firm calls it – to be lifted and placed in the bioreactor holder by one person in less than an hour.

The system is comprised of pulleys, spring-loaded wires and clasps, which lock into rings on the bag, enabling one trained individual to direct it into the holder.

“It can’t be a two person job, we want to do this to reduce manual labour and minimise downtime,” ​Hennessy told us.

Other vendors’ systems may involve two people, and steps that staff must mount in order to reach fixation points, which is generally a more laborious process, he added.

Storage solutions

Another challenge in making and adopting ABEC’s sizeable single-use technology, is the risk of damaging the plastic bags in storage, said Hennessy. 

“People told us that when bags are delivered ​[from other vendors], and they are stacked five high, the bottom one is crushed or pinched, and can’t be used,” ​he said.

“Even if there is a danger that it’s pinched, it can’t be used.”

To address this issue, ABEC designed a sterile, PVC frame to surround the DC when it sits inside the cardboard box for storage.

“It gives the box the product is delivered in structural integrity, so that you can stack them without crushing the bottom bag,” ​he told us.

“Theoretically, you should have no failures with your bag,” ​he added.

In 2015, ABEC launched​ a 4,300L single-use bioreactor – the largest on the market at the time – with a working volume of 3,500L.

In July 2017, the firm increased​ that offering to 4,900L, and three months later bioterrorism countermeasure manufacturer Emergent Biosciences announced​ it had purchased a 4,000L single-use bioreactor from ABEC.

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