The main difference between bioreactor and fermentor is that the bioreactor is the vessel that facilitates various types of biochemical reactions whereas the fermentor is the vessel that facilitates fermentation. Therefore, fermentor is a type of bioreactor. Furthermore, bioreactors are used in the production of medicines, pharmaceutical products, antibodies or vaccines while fermenters are used to produce lactic acid or ethanol.
Bioreactor and fermentor are two types of vessels that allow the occurrence of biochemical reactions by providing the optimum conditions for reactions.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is a Bioreactor
– Definition, Facts, Types
2. What is a Fermentor
– Definition, Facts, Types
3. What are the Similarities Between Bioreactor and Fermentor
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Bioreactor and Fermentor
– Comparison of Key Differences
Biochemical Reactions, Bioreactor, Fermentation, Fermentor, Vessels
What is a Bioreactor
A bioreactor is a closed system used for the processing of a biochemical reaction. It supports either the growth of cells such as mammalian or insect in a culture or production of a secondary metabolite such as pharmaceutical products, antibodies or vaccines. Fermentor is a type of bioreactor that uses fungal or bacterial cells for fermentation. Thus, depending on the purpose, bioreactors can be classified into two types; suspended growth bioreactors, which produce secondary metabolites, and biofilm bioreactors, which process cell cultures.
The six bioreactor designs are continuous stirred tank bioreactors, bubble column bioreactors, airlift bioreactors, fluidized bed bioreactors, packed bed bioreactors, and photo-bioreactors.
What is a Fermentor
Fermentor is a type of bioreactor, which uses fungi or bacteria for the fermentation of ethanol or lactic acid. Hence, a fermentor operates under anaerobic conditions. Also, fermentor is capable of providing the optimal growth conditions such as temperature to microorganisms.
Based on the type of cultures (such as batch or continuous culture) used in a fermentor, it can be classified into three as batch, fed-batch or continuous. Also, two type of fermentations can occur in a fermentor: surface fermentation by microorganisms in a solid medium and submerged fermentation by microorganisms in a liquid medium.
Similarities Between Bioreactor and Fermentor
- Bioreactor and fermentor are two types of vessels that facilitate a specific type of biochemical reaction.
- The main function of them is to provide agitation, aeration, sterility, regulation of factors like temperature, pH, pressure, nutrient feeding, liquid level, etc. and allow withdrawal of cells or the medium.
- These vessels are generally cylindrical and made up of stainless steel.
- They operate on a large scale.
- Both are closed systems.
Difference Between Bioreactor and Fermentor
Bioreactor refers to an apparatus in which a biological reaction or process is carried out, especially on an industrial scale whereas fermentor refers to the container in which fermentation takes place.
Type of Biochemical Reaction
Bioreactor allows any type of biochemical reactions to occur while the type of biochemical reaction facilitated by the fermentor is fermentation.
A bioreactor is a vessel that facilitates a biochemical reaction while fermentor is a type of bioreactor.
Type of Substrate
Various types of substrates can be used in a bioreactor based on the desired reaction while glucose or glucose-containing compounds are used in a fermentor.
Bioreactors may use either microorganisms or biochemically active substances such as enzymes or catalysts while fermentor always uses microorganisms to carry out the reaction.
Types of Microorganisms
Bioreactors can use mammalian or insect cell populations while fermentors use fungal or bacterial cell populations.
Origin of Microorganisms
Microorganisms are introduced into the bioreactors while microorganisms in the air are used in the fermentors.
Bioreactors may use either aerobic or anaerobic conditions while fermentors use anaerobic conditions.
Height of the Vessel
Short vessels can be used for mammalian cell cultures, which improve mixing while taller vessels are used for bacterial cultures, which improve the oxygen mass transfer.
The volume of the bioreactor can be up to several litres while the volume of the fermentor can be up to 2 L.
A preferable agitation RPM has to be maintained in a bioreactor due to the presence of cells without cell walls while a considerable agitation RPM can be used in a fermentor since both bacteria and fungi have cell walls.
The doubling time of a bioreactor is long (14, 17 or 24 hours) while the doubling time of a fermentor is 20 mins.
The bioreactors can either be used to produce a cell mass or a particular metabolite while fermentors are used to produce a metabolite.
Bioreactors can produce secondary metabolites while fermenters can only produce primary metabolites.
Types of Metabolites
Furthermore, bioreactors are used in the production of medicines, pharmaceutical liquids, antibodies or vaccines while fermenters are used to produce lactic acid or ethanol.
Bioreactors tend to be infected by viruses while fermenters generally are not infected by viruses.
Types of designs
Bioreactors can be packed bed, fluidized bed, IVFR or Airlift bioreactor while fermentors can be batch, fed-batch or continuous.
A bioreactor is a device which facilitates various types of biochemical reactions while fermentor is a device that facilitates fermentation. Fermentor is a type of bioreactor. Bioreactors can be used in the production of pharmaceutical products, vaccines or antibodies while fermenters are used in the production of ethanol and lactic acid. The main difference between bioreactor and fermentor is the type of biochemical reaction they carry out.
1. Garg, Manisha. “Fermentor (Bioreactor): History, Design and Its Construction.” Biology Discussion, 16 Sept. 2016, Available Here
2. Rajatsingh. “Fermentor.” LinkedIn SlideShare, 6 May 2017, Available Here
1. “Real life bioreactor” By KVDP – Own work based on: Bioreactor principle.svg (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Biofermentor” By User:Utkarshsingh.1992 – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia