Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (MSBiosyAgE)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Sue E. Nokes


The organism Clostridium thermocellum grows on cellulosic substrates and produces ethanol, acetate, lactate, formic acid, and CO2. The organic acids produced alter the growth environment in which the bacteria grows and ultimately inhibit bacterial growth. One method which has been used successfully to maintain the system at acceptable growth conditions is to intermittently flush out the spent media and metabolic products and replace with new fermentation media. Our goal was to design and build an automated system that will automatically flush the spent media from the growing culture and resupply new media without manual intervention. An automated control system was designed and built to control growth parameters. Heated water was pumped through the jacket of each culture vessel and used to regulate the reactor temperature. Sensors for pH and temperature were connected to a central data acquisition system and NI LabVIEW software was used to control each of the components through the signals provided by the data acquisition system. Peristaltic and vacuum pumps were used to supply growth media and acquire reproducible samples for HPLC analysis with limited contamination. In a series of trials, targeted temperature and moisture conditions were achieved and new media was passed through each reactor using a time trigger. More product was produced in manual and automatically flushed cultures than in batch.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)