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A guide to impeller selection

Lab Academy

When growing microorganisms or mammalian cells in a stirred-tank bioreactor, it is critical to pick the impeller type that best suits the process. Selecting the wrong impeller could make chop suey of your filamentous fungi.

Going for the right impeller can greatly increase yields of picky cell lines and even stem cells. With a wide variety of impeller designs how can we determine which one is best?

How blade orientation affects mixing

All stirred-tank bioreactors are designed to homogenously mix cells, nutrients, and gases. The impeller evenly distributes oxygen and substrates to the cells for healthy growth. It keeps them from settling to the bottom of the vessel and helps maintain a stable, even temperature. Depending on the impeller you choose, mixing will be achieved by radial or axial flow – or a combination of both.

Rushton and Rushton-type impellers: Ideal for fermentation‌

Pitched-blade impellers: For shear-sensitive cells‌

Marine impellers: Even more gentle‌

Packed-bed baskets: Perfect for secreted proteins‌

Spin Filters: Perfusion for all cell lines‌

Special impellers for microcarrier cultures‌

Interested in more expert advice on bioprocessing topics?