Soft sensors are the combination of robust on-line sensor signals with mathematical models for deriving additional process information. Here, we apply this principle to a microbial recombinant protein production process in a bioreactor by exploiting bio-calorimetric methodology. Temperature sensor signals from the cooling system of the bioreactor were used for estimating the metabolic heat of the microbial culture and from that the specific growth rate and active biomass concentration were derived. By applying sequential digital signal filtering, the soft sensor was made more robust for industrial practice with cultures generating low metabolic heat in environments with high noise level. The estimated specific growth rate signal obtained from the three stage sequential filter allowed controlled feeding of substrate during the fed-batch phase of the production process. The biomass and growth rate estimates from the soft sensor were also compared with an alternative sensor probe and a capacitance on-line sensor, for the same variables. The comparison showed similar or better sensitivity and lower variability for the metabolic heat soft sensor suggesting that using permanent temperature sensors of a bioreactor is a realistic and inexpensive alternative for monitoring and control. However, both alternatives are easy to implement in a soft sensor, alone or in parallel.
Paulsson, D., Gustavsson, R., & Mandenius, C. F. (2014). A soft sensor for bioprocess control based on sequential filtering of metabolic heat signals. Sensors (Switzerland), 14(10), 17864–17882. https://doi.org/10.3390/s141017864