Fermentation (2024)

Course manager

Simon Craige

Semester schedule

Spring (13-week period)



Language of instruction


Course type



Competences corresponding to participation in the courses Microbiology, Chemical Engineering, Chemical unit operations, Mathematics 1, Statistics, and General and organic chemistry – are recommended. 


The objective of the course is to provide the students with a theoretical and practical experience in solving technological problems pertaining to fermentation technology. Using mathematical descriptions of fermentation, the students will describe how different fermentation systems develop and how different parameters can affect the fermentation performance. The students will be able to derive different fermentation performance characteristics such as yield and growth rate based on experimental fermentation data.


  • Mass balances
  • A mathematical description of fermentation processes
  • Mass transport
  • Microbial kinetics (growth, substrate absorption, and product formation)
  • Determination of microbial kinetics from experimental data sets
  • Modelling of a fermentation based on experimental data
  • Evaluation of fermentation processes based on experimental data
  • Experimental fermentation with a focus on the sterilization of fermenters, propagation, and inoculation of microorganisms, and sampling and data collection during fermentations

Learning targets

On completion of the course, the student is expected to be able to:


  • Describe how temperature, total pressure, partical oxygen pressure and the presence of dissolved and suspended matter in growth media will exert and impact on the oxygen solubility and oxygen-mass transfer rate in a fermenter
  • Describe techniques for experimental determination of KLa to steady state and dynamic oxygen transfer together with the limitations of the techniques
  • Describe the design of different reactors and the most important control parameters
  • Explain how microbes adapt when being exposed to a fermentation environment
  • Describe the most important components which make up a fermentation medium
  • Decribe the different parts of a laboratory-scale fermenter
  • Be able to carry out assembly, media formulation, sterilization, inoculation, monitoring, and sampling of a laboratory-scale fermenter


  • Prepare mass-balance calculations on the basis of atomic balances and stoichiometric principles of fermentations, including a carbon balance and the respiration quotient
  • Make and assess calculations of microbial kinetics
  • Apply graphical methods to evaluate microbial kinetics and select relevant models for the description of the microbial kineteics
  • Perform data collection of relevant control parameters (e.g. DCW, pH, OD and CO2)
  • Apply statistical methods in the assessment of executed fermentations


  • Set up and apply mathematical expressions to determine microbial kinetic parameters based on experimental data. for instance yield constants, rates of growth, and substrate consumption
  • Evaluate how a change in fermentation parameters such as temperature or substrate may affect the performance of a fermentation
  • Interpret experimental fermentation data from the scientific literature
  • Identify relevant data for monitoring fermentations and suggest methods to obtain such data.

The purpose of the laboratory element (cooresponding to 4 ECTS) is to illustrate, explain and entrench the theoretical principles through practical exercises comprising e.g. mass balances and microbial kinetics.

Teaching method

Seminars,  problem solution, laboratory work as well as company visits

Qualifications for examination participation

  • Fulfilment of the requirements for compulsory participation as given in the study programme part 2.4
  • Participation in all planned activities with external lecturers
  • Participation in laboratory exercises and the acceptance of associated reports and papers
  • Participation in all planned company visits

Examination and aids

  • Written examination on fermentation technology and methods. Duration of examination: 4 hours.

Permitted aids: Textbook, notes and mathematical program/spreadsheet. No access to the internet.

  • Oral examination based on a selected laboratory exercise plus a theoretical topic Duration of examination: 30 min. no preparation time

Permitted aids: Reports on laboratory exercises. No access to the internet.

In the final assessment, the following elements constitute:

Oral examination (50%) and project report (50%). Each element of the exam must be passed in order to pass the course.

The format of a retake can change for the second and further retakes if so decided by the course responsible.




The 7-point grading scale