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Milo Koretsky

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Virtual Bioreactor

The Virtual Bioreactor is a web-based educational tool. It is a simulation of a bioreactor process in a yeast biproduct production facility.

If you already have an account, you can log in. Instructors can create and monitor assignments.

Now with a 3D student interface!

To access the 3D interface, click here or the picture to the right.

How to Obtain an Account

A student is given an account by the instructor of a class. Please contact your instructor if you do not have an account or cannot access the system.

An instructor may sign up to use Virtual Bioreactor at a learning institution or business. The software is Web-based, so you can apply to use this project from any geographical location where students and instructors have reliable Internet access.


Presently there is a need for more effective ways to integrate statistical methodologies such as Design of Experiments (DOE) into the engineering curriculum. We have developed a virtual bioreactor based on a numerical simulation where students learn and then actually apply DOE. Associated educational materials are also being developed. The simulation of the virtual reactor is based on fundamental principles chemical reaction, obscured by added "noise." However, rather than having access to the entire output of the model, the cell density, product density, and substrate density are given to students only at the select sample times that the students have decided to "measure." Student assessment is based not only on the ultimate reactor performance but also on the cost of experimentation.

This learning tool represents an innovative use of computers and simulation in integrating statistics into engineering education. Students are given a "capstone" experience in which they have the opportunity to synthesize engineering science and statistics principles to optimize a reactor's performance. Since the simulation is from first principles, students can interpret the outputs given by the DOE in terms of the chemical and physical phenomena in the system masked by the variation seen in real processes and measurements. The virtual reactor allows students a broader and more realistic experience in using the DOE methodology for process improvement — as if they were operating an actual industrial reactor.

The Virtual Bioreactor project allows students to practice the type of skills they will use in the biotechnology industry, thus enriching their education. Each student is given access to one or more bioreactor. The student will then work on an assignment of the instructor's choosing, such as achieving a certain product concentration, or optimizing an existing process recipe for several reactors which differ in some aspect.

The virtual bioreactor system is flexible; instructors can customize many parameters in the virtual environment. Our Web server keeps track of the (virtual) cost incurred by each student, the student's process recipes and sample times, and makes these accessible to the instructor in tabular form.