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The Advanced Bioprocessing Centre (ABC)

The Advanced Bioprocessing Centre (ABC) aims to focus BIB’s research on bioprocessing, establishing it as an international centre of excellence and the first point of contact for both academia and industry when facing challenging separation problems.

Goals & Objectives

  1. To establish the Advanced Bioprocessing Centre (ABC) as an international centre of excellence in downstream processing and in particular, liquid-liquid dynamic extraction technology;
  2. To pursue research into separation & purification techniques and associated instrument design/operation, to ensure further improvements are made in the speed, through-put, economy, resolution and efficiency of downstream processing;
  3. To pursue research into linking upstream and downstream processes;
  4. To perform collaborative research with industry on new separation technology and processes and
  5. To work in partnership with Dynamic Extractions Ltd (a Brunel University spinout company) to promote dynamic extractions technology as the technology of choice for a wide range of applications

ABC Facilities

The Centre has 4 dedicated labs with the latest analytical equipment as well as robot liquid handling systems for method development for new applications research in liquid flow technology. The ABC hazards laboratory has two Pilot Scale Centrifuges (4.6 L and 18 L capacity) with associated equipment and a lab/prep laboratory for Midi Scale Centrifuges (~1 L capacity).

This enables ABC to provide a full spectrum of services for academic and commercial research collaborations/contracts involving method development at analytical scale with further scale-up for manufacture of trial grade material (natural and synthetic pharmaceuticals products) where required.

The ABC is located just outside the Heinz Wolff Building on the University campus, plus two extra laboratories within BIB.  In the main ABC building, there is an Applications Lab, a Hazards Lab and an Operator Room.  Within BIB, there is an Analytical Lab and a Postgraduate Research Lab, often just known as the “Wet Lab”.

Applications Laboratory: (32m2)

This contains both Mini and Midi CCC centrifuges on moveable trolleys to allow flexibility in their operation.  One of the Midi centrifuges is a special non-synchronous instrument used for research, another has been set up for continuous processing.  There is also a walk-in fume cupboard for the making of solvent systems and both small (5L) and large scale (2 x 25L) evaporators for evaporation of solvent.  Localised extraction is provided by flexible trunking which can be positioned anywhere within the lab and fraction analysis is provided by an HPLC unit with both PDA and ELSD detectors.

Hazards Laboratory: (30m2)

This is a zoned pilot-scale laboratory containing two Maxi CCC centrifuges, one of 4.6 litre capacity, the other of 18 litre capacity.  The pumping system for these centrifuges is dedicated to liquid-liquid handling, capable of up to 3 litres/minute flow rates, and ATEX compliant.  The whole Hazards Laboratory is evacuated every few minutes with complete air-exchange extractions and the doors have a safety timer that does not allow entry until the extraction is operational.  The floor of the laboratory is sloped towards a sump in which an explosion-proof pump sits, allowing even major spillages of solvent to be safely contained without the operator having to enter the room. 

Operator Room: (6m2)

The operation of all the equipment in the Hazards Laboratory is remotely controlled from the Operator Room behind a large sheet of explosion-proof safety glass.  The Operator Room is designated as a “clean room”, allowing users to occupy the room without lab coats, safety glasses or gloves.

Analytical Laboratory: (26m2)

This laboratory, located at the end of the BIB offices, contains small scale, “analytical” operations.  Within the lab are two Mini CCC centrifuges, plus an HPLC and a GC for analysis and a liquid-handling robot for the solvent selection process.  Also in the lab is a pH meter, gas generators for GC, various solvent evaporation and sample centrifugation devices, and instruments for measuring all the critical physical properties of phase systems such as density, viscosity and interfacial tension.

Postgraduate Research Laboratory: (17m2)

Situated as a room within the BIB Workshop, the Research Lab is where experimental rigs are constructed and tested.  The lab can be completely darkened, allowing the use of stroboscopic photography of the visible coils of the Cantilever CCC centrifuge.  Currently, a special toroidal coil Midi CCC is located, plus a 1 litre size Armen CPC instrument for comparison with CCC.  As with the other labs, a fume cupboard ensures full extraction of solvents.

History

The Advanced Bioprocessing Centre at Brunel was set up as part of an initiative by the university to create a number inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary centres of excellence around specific research fields.  The proposal for the formation of the ABC was first approved in 2005 and formally opened as a Centre with its own building on April 25th, 2006 by Dr Yoichiro Ito of NIH.

ABC opening with Ian Sutherland and Yorchiro ItoProfessor Sutherland (right), Director of the Advanced Bioprocessing Centre (ABC) with Dr Yoichiro Ito (left) who is unveiling the plaque commemorating the opening of the ABC on April 25th, 2006.

ABC opening with international guestsGuests at the opening of the ABC.

From left to right: Professor Lijuan Chen, Sichuan University, China, Dr Guy Harris, Merck, USA, Dr Ian Garrard, manager of the ABC, Professor Derek Fisher, Professor of Biochemistry at BIB, Professor Ian Sutherland, Director of the ABC, Professor Chris Jenks, Vice Chancellor of Brunel University, Dr Yoichiro Ito, NIH, USA, Professor Tatiana Maryutina, Vernadsky Institute RAS, Moscow, Russia, Professor Alain Berthod, University of St Bernard, Lyon, France, Dr Petr Fedotov, Vernadsky Institute RAS, Moscow, Russia, Dr Andrew Marston, University of Geneva, Switzerland and Professor Alain Foucault, University of Rheims, France.