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Biochemical/Environmental Lab

St. Benilde Hall #112

Faculty Supervisor:
Dr. Ali Pourhashemi (Biochemical)
Dr. L. Yu Lin (Environmental)

Biochemical lab

Biochemical Engineers design and manage chemical process systems that use living cells to catalyze chemical reactions. Food products, pharmaceuticals, and biofuels are the most common applications. The biochemical portion of this lab enables students to practice techniques and test concepts used in biochemical processes.

A typical biochemical production facility has three major sections: cultivation of cells and feedstock preparation, the reactor section, and recovery and purification of the products.

Most biochemical reactors are called fermentors. Our fermentor is fully automated and can be used to cultivate mammalian, bacteria, or yeast cells. A data acquisition system collects information from a dissolved oxygen meter and temperature and flow measurements. Samples can be collected and analyzed using a high pressure liquid chromatograph or a gas chromatograph.

The cell cultures used to make products need to be carefully controlled. An autoclave is used to sterilize glassware and equipment. Cell cultures can be grown in a constant temperature bath or stored in an incubator.

When the reaction is complete, the fermentor contains a mixture of cells, product, and many other components. Purifying such mixtures is a key skill of biochemical engineers. Our lab includes filtration equipment and a centrifuge for separating the cells from the product broth. The centrifuge holds several containers and spins rapidly, so that centrifugal force causes the cells and other solids to collect at one end of the container.

Environmental lab

Environmental Engineers seek ways to prevent pollutants from entering the ecosystem, analyze those that do escape, and attempt to clean up polluted air, water, and soil. This lab also contains a number of tools and experimental apparatus to investigate water pollution and remediation.

A sedimentation apparatus enables students to study how solids settle from suspension. The lab also contains an ion exchange column for water treatment.

This lab is also suitable for a variety of other “wet chemistry” uses. It is equipped with an exhaust hood for tasks involving volatile materials.