Course syllabus


KBT090 Industrial biotechnology lp4 VT22 (7.5 hp)

The course is offered by the department of Biology and Biological Engineering

The schedule is available here


Contact details, teachers:

Carl Johan (Calle) Franzén,, 772 3808. (Course-responsible examiner)

Yvonne Nygård,, (Examiner, RPP)

Lisbeth Olsson,, 772 3805. (Lecturer)

Cecilia Geijer,, 7723852 (Lecturer)


Course purpose

The aims of the course are that the students should

  • gain a quantitative understanding of different types of bioreactors and cultivation technologies
  • obtain knowledge concerning the different demands on cultivation conditions and process control dictated by the metabolic and physiological characteristics of various cell systems such as bacteria, yeast, filamentous fungi as well as higher eukaryotes.
  • obtain knowledge of industrial applications of such cell factories
  • develop engineering competences like working with models, working with complex, open-ended problems, and communicating scientific problems in written and oral form within given time frames.




Course literature

The course literature consists of handouts, scientific articles and book chapters referred to during the course. To avoid illegal copying, students must download the required articles via the E-journals and E-books available at the Chalmers library homepage:

Compulsory literature:

Chapters 3 and 4 in: Stephanopoulos, Aristidou and Nielsen (1998), Metabolic engineering. Principles and methodologies. Academic Press. (Available as E-book via the Chalmers library)

Goldrick, S. et al. (2014) The development of an industrial-scale fed-batch fermentation simulation. Journal of Biotechnology. Vol 193, pp 70-82, 2015. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2014.10.029

Mears L et al. (2017) Mechanistic Fermentation Models for Process Design, Monitoring, and Control.  Trends in Biotechnology, Vol. 35, Issue 10, p914–924

Mears, L., S. M. Stocks, G. Sin and K. V. Gernaey (2017). A review of control strategies for manipulating the feed rate in fed-batch fermentation processes. Journal of Biotechnology 245: 34-46.

Santos, L.O. et al. (2012) Nonlinear model predictive control of fed-batch cultures of micro-organisms exhibiting overflow metabolism: Assessment and robustness. Comput. Chem. Eng. 39, 143–151


Additional reading

Volumes 1-3 of: Moo-Young, M (editor) (2011): Comprehensive Biotechnology (Second Edition or other editions), Elsevier (available as E-book). (E.g.,chapters 1.19; 1.20; 1.48; 1.51; 2.02-2.07; 2.11; (2.14-2.22); 2.37-2.39; etc.)

The course literature used in KMB041 and KKR091 may also be used as reference books:

Madigan MT, Martinko JM, Stahl DA, Clark DP (2012) Brock biology of microorganisms (13th edition). Pearson Education (or other editions)

Matthews, Appling, Anthony-Cahill, van Holde (2013) Biochemistry (4th edition). Pearson education (or other editions)

Nielsen J, Villadsen J, Lidén G (2003) Bioreaction Engineering Principles (3rd edition), Springer (available as E-book) (or other editions)

Larsson G (2017). Cultivation technology (8th edition). KTH Biotechnology.


Course design


Lectures are an important part of the course, and will be the major basis for the final exam. Approximately half of the lectures will deal with the core of the course, namely physiologically based control of bioreactors. The other half is dedicated to theme lectures on different organisms, established processes, and the necessary considerations in choosing the right cultivation technology for various purposes.

The lectures will be given in class (mostly in KC). We will also stream and record via Zoom, but encourage everyone to participate in class.


Research Project Proposal (RPP)

This assignment will be described separately in more detail. It includes writing of a research grant proposal including industrial biotechnology issues. The project title should be selected and proposed to the course leaders no later than Thursday, March 31, at 13.00. To pass the course, students must hand in an acceptable literature assignment (grant proposal), and present it at an oral presentation.

If the grant proposal is submitted before Friday, April 29, 18.00, the assignment will also contribute to the final grade with a maximum of 30 points, with the following continuous grading scale:





Points awarded for report: 





Points awarded for oral presentation:




The oral presentations (compulsory attendance) will take place on Tuesday, May 17, and Thursday, May 19, according to a separate schedule.

The students will receive no extra points if the assignment is handed in late. However, the assignment must still be submitted for passing the course. Detailed criteria for the assessment of the proposals will be given in class. The report must be written by the students themselves, and will be tested for plagiarism.

Yvonne will be available for consultation at certain times, indicated in the course schedule. Detailed contact information will be given in class.


Simulation assignment

The simulation assignment deals with dynamic mass balances, oxygen transfer, physiologi­cally based control of bioreactors, biochemically structured models for microbial growth and product formation, and with industrial bioprocessing. Students must submit a final report on these simulation exercises. The assignment exercises and report will be done in groups of three persons. The examiner will randomize groups with mixed backgrounds as far as possible.

You are allowed to discuss the exercises and solution procedures with other students but you must write your own solutions, programs and report within each group. References to external sources that are influential for your solution (including personal communication) must be clearly presented. Each person in the group must be able to explain the content of the report and simulations, and students may be asked individually to explain the report to the examiner.

To support the development of the required programs, there are also some exercises that are intended to train the basic theoretical concepts of the first lectures and help to generate the code necessary for solving the more demanding assignment. Further information will be given during the exercises.

To pass the course, students must submit an acceptable simulation report and be able to explain the contents in a follow-up discussion with the teacher. To help meeting the final deadline, the matlab code for solving Exercise B4 must be submitted no later than Friday, April 22, at 18.00. To improve the final report, students have the opportunity to submit a voluntary draft report until Friday, May 6, 18.00. Carl Johan Franzén will give feedback on submitted drafts to support improvement. If the final report is submitted before Friday, May 20, 18.00, the reports will also contribute to the final grade with a maximum of 30 points, with the following continuous grading scale:







Points awarded: 






On Monday, May 23 through Wednesday, May 25, there will be 45-minute time slots for each group to book for final discussion of your reports and conclusions with Carl Johan Franzén.

No points will be awarded if the assignment is handed in after the deadline. If you will not meet the deadline, please contact the examiner. The assignment must still be submitted for passing the course. Detailed criteria for the assessment of the reports will be given in class. The report will be tested for plagiarism.

The interaction with the customer’s representative (i.e. Calle) will primarily be done in the computer studio. There will also be opportunities to book short discussion sessions via zoom at the course home page on Canvas.


Written exam

The final exam is scheduled Thursday, June 2, 2020 at 14:00, The location will be decided by the examination administration. 

The exam may include questions on all parts of the course, including guest lectures, exercises, assignments and literature. There may be both essay type questions as well as calculation problems. The maximum number of points in the written exam will be 60, and the minimum number of points to pass the course will be 20. All aids are permitted except collaboration with other persons.



Changes made since the last occasion

  • Guest lectures are only preliminary at the start of the course. Changes in the schedule will be announced during the course. Guest lectures may be done on-line.
  • We have placed the deadlines for submission of the RPP and the preliminary simulation report have been moved earlier to allow better formative assessment of the simulation assignment. Please look at the detailed schedule for updated information.
  • Yvonne Nygård is new examiner for the RPP
  • Due to the covid pandemic there will be no field trip this year.


Learning objectives and syllabus

Intended learning outcomes:

After completion of this course, the student should be able to:

  • Describe how renewable raw materials can be used for production of fine and bulk chemicals using industrial biotechnology.
  • Design common microbial cultivation techniques such as batch-, fed-batch and chemostat cultures.
  • Make quantitative descriptions of growth and metabolic behaviour in industrial-like cultivation systems using biochemically structured mathematical models and simulation in Matlab
  • Design strategies for development of microbial cell factories suitable for industrial applications, also considering the extra demands put on cell factories when using renewable lignocellulosic raw materials.
  • Choose suitable cultivation techniques and cell systems for various manufacturing and research purposes and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of alternative  cultivation techniques and cell systems
  • Design metabolically based control strategies for cultivation of different cell systems such as bacteria, yeast, filamentous fungi and higher eukaryotic cells.
  • Formulate and communicate a proposal for a biotechnological research or development project, including choice of model organism, cultivation techniques, and analytical techniques.
  • Describe some important industrial applications of microbiology.


See Study plan


Examination form

Grading is based on the sum of the points given for the Simulation report, RPP (both written report and oral presentation), and the final exam. The maximum number of points is therefore 120. If the Simulation report and / or the RPP report are handed in too late, they will receive 0 points, but they must still be submitted in acceptable form for passing the course.

The final grade will be based on the total points gathered in the course as follows:

Grade 3: 50 points

Grade 4: 70 points

Grade 5: 90 points.

Note, that to pass the course, the student must also score a minimum of 20 points on the final written exam.

Course summary:

Date Details Due