SBRC Fermenters

We have established arguably the best-equipped academic lab-scale research facility in gas-fermentation in Europe and certainly in the UK.  

With world-leading industrial process-engineering expert input, we have designed what we believe is one of the safest lab-scale fermentation suites able to utilise Hydrogen (H2) and methane (CH4) gases.



Waste gas fermentation at the SBRC-Nottingham



The facility focuses on screening and optimisation experiments in microbioreactors and to inform scale up studies. Our fermenters have up to 0.75 litre or 1.5 litre working volumes depending on gas mixtures.

The research group has extensive microbial genome engineering expertise in anaerobic and aerobic fermentation. The production chassis generated are subjected to varying fermentation conditions.

Our mathematical modelling team uses the data generated from the many fermentation cycles iteratively to build and refine systems biology and flux-based models of fermentation.

Microbial Gas Fermentation Suites

We have three gas fermentation suites for aerobic and anaerobic bioreactors with online and offline monitoring.

Each suite consists of several sets of lab-scale multiplexed fermenters facilitiating batch-fed and continuous fermentation capabilities.

All bioreactors are glass vessels around 0.5 litre - 2 litre capacities (not suited for pressurised processes). It is a unique facility thanks to the number of available identical fermenters (6-8 identical units for each system) making it ideal for comparing different operating conditions. To support all this fermentation effort there is a diverse suite of analytical equipment (GC-MS, LC-MS-MS, HPLC, GC).


We have several bioreactors for aerobic Carbon dioxide (C02) and methane (CH4) assimilation studies which are equipped with a range of other gasses including hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2). They are used primarily for the cultivation of autotrophic or methanotrophic strains.

This bioreactor system is a unique lab-scale, efficient gas-fermentation unit available to perform aerobic C02 or aerobic carbon monoxide (CO) and methane (CH4) based cultivations.


  • To maximise safety, all the bioreactors are operated inside a continuous flow extraction cabinet;
  • ATEX rated solenoid valves and relief valves are in place on the H2 and methane supply;
  • A UV/IR flame detector, connected to an electrical supply shut-off is in place to prevent hydroben fires and to trigger the solenoid valves to default close and isolate the flammable gas supply;
  • Bespoke software manages the H2, methane and O2 gas supplies and flushes Nitrogen gas (N2) through the system. The software controls gas mixture ratios keeping them below the flammable level, i.e. ≤ 5% partial pressure O2 mediated through O2 level sensors;
  • Polycarbonate screening surrounding the bioreactor vessels acts as blast-shields as a final failsafe should explosive conditions be created.
  • A detailed Hazard and Operability (HAZOP) study was performed to minimise risk.



We have a BioLector Pro which enables up to 48 simultaneous fermentations (2ml) to be performed making it ideal for screening fermentation performance It also provides micro channel dosing between plate-wells for pH control and media feeding.

Our RoboLector enables automation and robotized handling for both dosing and sampling.  The RoboLector and the BioLector can work with a range of gases including CO, CO2 and Nitrogen.




The unique facilities and the breadth of gas fermentation research activity attract researchers globally and we routinely welcome visiting scientists to spend time experiencing the SBRC.