From an idea to the final product Pilot plants for bio and process technology

VTT pilot plants

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VTT Pilot plants for bio and process technology: From an idea to the final product

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Page 1: VTT pilot plants

From an idea to the final product

Pilot plants for bio and process technologyVTT TECHNICAL RESEARCH CENTRE OF FINLAND

Tekniikantie 4 A, EspooP.O. Box 1000, FI-02044 VTT, FinlandTel. +358 20 722 111, Fax +358 20 722 7001www.vtt.fi

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is the largest

multitechnological applied research organisation in Northern

Europe. VTT provides high-end technology solutions and

innovation services.

From its wide knowledge base, VTT can combine different

technologies, create new innovations and a substantial

range of world class technologies and applied research

services thus improving its clients’ competitiveness and


Through its international scientific and technology network,

VTT can produce information, upgrade technology

knowledge, create business intelligence and value added to

its stakeholders. VTT is a non-profit-making research


Page 2: VTT pilot plants

VTT’s serVices VTT’s services cover all key stages of the customer’s innovationprocess. Our aim is to increase the competitiveness of our customers’businesses, promote the creation of new business, and improve andspeed up the impact of R&D.

We offer our customers access to our cross-disciplinary technologicaland business expertise, unique research infrastructure, andcomprehensive partnership networks. Customized solutions arecreated in close cooperation with the customer.

In the following pages you can find out how our Pilot services couldenhance your competitiveness. Contact us for your tailored solution.



cONTeNTs Page Pilot plants for bio and process technology 3

Process chemistry pilot plants 4

Fermentation and downstream processing 6

Food pilot plants 8

Plastics processing pilots 10

Editorial: Mika Härkönen, VTTGraphic design: Sari Halme, VTTPhotos: VTT, Tekes, iStockphoto, Shutterstock This review is printed on Galerie Art Silk printing paper, which has been granted the environmental emblem of the Nordic countries. Printed in Edita Prima Ltd 2012







441 002

Printed matterPEFC/02-31-135

Page 3: VTT pilot plants


Pilot plants for bio and process technology

WE WELCOME NEW CHALLENGESVTT is your partner in developing your business.

VTT is an impartial expert organisation that carries out technical and techno-economic research and development work. We also offer information services.

VTT is a contract research organization involved in many international assignments. With its 3,200 employees, VTT provides a wide range of technology and applied research services for its clients, private companies, institutions and the public sector.

PiLOt it WitH VttThe Pilot Plant Services at VTT assist the bioprocess, chemi-cal, energy, forest, food and beverage industries to develop new processes and products, and predict scale-up effects. Pilot trials help to minimise risks and costs on the way from the laboratory to industrial production.

We can help our customers with versatile product and proc-ess development tasks including custom manufacturing services provided by our highly skilled, experienced and customer-ori-ented personnel. We can provide a comprehensive scale-up service for small and large companies by combining piloting with VTT expertise in chemistry, biotechnology, analytics and applica-tion testing. VTT also provides process feasibility and sustain-ability assessments.

We serve many types of customers, from large international food or chemical companies to small local biotechnology start-up enterprises. Our pilot plants are located in Otaniemi and Rajamäki, both close to Helsinki, the capital of Finland.

WE CAN HELP WHEN• a hypothesis needs to be tested• a process needs to be scaled up or optimised• empirical production data is required for the design of a

new plant or product• you need manufacturing services for your products• you don’t have the staff or equipment to do it all yourself.

Chemical reactions

Plastic processing

Product recovery


Fermen- tations

Food processing

Customer need





Products Scale-upunderstanding

Page 4: VTT pilot plants


SCALE-UP WitH VttA special feature of our process chemis-try pilots is relatively large-sized pilot plant equipment: multi-purpose reactors up to 2 m3 integrated with suitable downstream processing units. Therefore our pilot plants offer the possibility for relatively large scale pilot tests and custom manu-facturing services e.g. for emerging SME companies.

We have pilot facilities located in Rajamäki and Otaniemi, both near Hel-sinki. The total pilot hall area is 1200 m2, of which 300 m2 is ATEX-classified for handling of flammable chemicals. Cus-tomer personnel can participate in the test runs, and some of our equipment can be leased out for tests at other locations. Health, safety and environmental issues are an integral part of our daily work.

Our customers are typically from chemical, biotechnology, forest and phar-maceutical industries. This means that very versatile tasks can be performed at


Reactors• Two multi-purpose reactor systems:

60 dm3…500 dm3, glass-lined 250 dm3…1800 dm3, Avesta SMO

• Several other reactors 0.5 dm3…600 dm3. Steel, glass, hastelloy temperature, range: -50...+280 °C, pressure range: 10 mbar…60 bar

• Reactors for viscous and corrosive materials

Process chemistry pilot plants

• Special reactors: for viscous and heterogeneous materials, dry and high consistency processing, biomass treatment and polymerisations, reaction calorimeter.

• ATEX-classified facilities: handling of flammable substances.

• Liquid-solid separations: separators, centrifuges and various filters.

• Membrane filtrations: large pilot scale membrane filter units up to 40 m2 for controlled purifications.

• Drying or concentration of slurries and solutions with vacuum contact and spray dryers.

• Evaporations and distillations: falling film evaporators, distillation equipment, solvent recovery.

• Drais/Lödige All-in-one-reactors: 5, 100, 130 and 250 dm3 (reaction, distillation, drying, granulation, dispersion), 10 mbar…25 bar,

• Tube reactor• ATEX-classified Distillation, evaporation and drying• Conventional and vacuum

distillation in reactor systems and separate distillers

• Falling film evaporators (water 50 dm3/h, suitable also for organic solvents)

• Distillation unit (packed columns, vacuum,adjustable reflux ratio)

• Vacuum contact dryers and evaporators Drais/Lödige 5, 100, 130 and 250 dm3

• Spray dryer, Niro P-6.3, 30-50 kg water/h

• Fixed bed dryer (0.8 m3)• Rotavapor evaporator, 20 dm3,


VTT´s process chemistry pilot plants have excellent facilities for rapid and efficient product and process development. We offer a unique combination of relatively large pilot scale multi-purpose reactors and versatile downstream processing units.

our pilot plants. Fractionation and chem-istry of biomass-based materials and chemicals has been a focus area already for more than 15 years.


VTT’s two multi-purpose reactor systems combined with versatile down stream processing units provide excellent pos-sibilities for several industrial applications. We can perform tasks from biomass frac-tionations to challenging synthesis of fine chemicals.

Main capabilities• Multi-purpose reactors: steel and

glass-lined pilot reactors having capacities between 60 and 1800 dm3 for chemical synthesis, polymerisations, distillations, extractions etc. Bench-scale reactors are also available.

Page 5: VTT pilot plants


AddiTiONAL iNfOrMATiONPertti TiitolaSenior Specialist Pilot operationsTel. +358 40 502 [email protected]

Mika HärkönenTeam Leader Pilot operationsTel. +358 40 083 [email protected]

Solid handling• 3-phase separator (feed max

5 m3/h), ATEX-classified (suitable also for flammable liquids)

• Filtration: Plane and frame filter (2 m2), rotary vacuum filter (1 m2), pressure bag filter, Nutsche filter (0.28 m2)

• Clarification separators (feed max 10 m3/h)

• Decanter centrifuge (feed max 1.5 m3/h)

• Wet and dry mills

• In-line mixers (Silverson 425LS, Ytron Z60)

• Materials AISI 316 Other process possibilities• Reaction calorimeter with NIR probe

(Mettler Toledo RC1W, 100 bar)• Membrane cross-flow filtration units

(up to 40 m2). Membrane types: tube, hollow fiber, spiral and plate.

• VTT’s other research service



• Pilot scale reactions: esterifications, etherifications, condensation and radical polymerisation, oxidation, chemical and enzymatic hydrolysis.

• Chemical modifications of natural polymers, e.g. starch, hemicelluloses and cellulose fibres.

• Formulation of products from chemically modified polysaccharides, e.g. adhesives, dispersions, pigments and bioplastics.

• Recovery of valuable components from forest biomass followed by necessary purification, concentration and drying steps. For example, extraction of hemicellulose from pulp followed by membrane filtration purification and concentration or drying of the product.

• Separation and recovery of the valuable components from microbial cells after fermentation.

• High consistency processing and reactions. For example, pilot scale test runs to develop dry modification processes for starch.

• Polymer production by radical, inonic and condensation polymerisations.

• Utilising vacuum contact and spray dryers in drying of many types of materials. In addition, the contact dryers can be used for reactions, evaporations, compacting and granulation of materials, mixing, dispergation and coating.

Page 6: VTT pilot plants


fermentation and downstream processingVTT has comprehensive facilities for biotechnical process development. Our pilot hall has equipment for fermentation and downstream processing ranging from a scale of less than 1 litre up to 1,200 litres pilot scale and including a total of almost 50 bioreactors. Together with our competence in molecular biology and microbial physiology, we offer process development from the level of strain improvement to pilot scale technological production. For some of our customers, our pilot scale is in fact their production scale and we can thus offer routine contract production of materials.

ferMeNTer cAPAciTY


Quoted volumes are maximum

working volumes.

Autoclavable fermenters

• 15 x 0.2 dm3 (local-made, prototype)

• 6 x 0.5 dm3 (Infors, Switzerland)

• 12 x 1.0 dm3 (Sartorius (Germany)

Biostat Q+)

• 2 x 2 dm3 (Sartorius Biostat B)

In situ-sterilizable fermenters

• 6 x Sartorius CT-DCU 3 (4 x 2 dm3,

2 x 5 dm3)

• 2 x 7 dm3 (New Brunswick Scientific

(USA) Bioflo IV)

• 2 x Sartorius C-DCU (10 & 20 dm3)

Flexibility is an important feature in the Biotechnology pilot plant. Our processes have very varied aims and also require-ments, which means that both the equip-ment and the operating personnel must be able to address a wide range of issues.

Examples of processes operated in laboratory and pilot scale in recent years include:• Enzyme production for applications in

the wood-, textile- and food processing industries, mainly but not only using the fungal host Trichoderma reesei.

• Products for molecular biology research.

• Plant and mammalian protein production in the yeast Pichia pastoris.

• Production of antibodies for diagnostic and other applications in E. coli in high cell density cultivation.

• Active pharmaceutical ingredients for novel medicinal drugs, mainly using filamentous Streptomyces bacteria.

• Production of cosmetics ingredients in plant cells in standard fermenters of up to 300 litres capacity.

• Biofuel production including lipid compounds (biodiesel) and bioethanol using both yeast and filamentous fungi and also photosynthetic algae.

• Continuous pilot scale bioethanol and biogas production from cellulosic materials via enzymatic hydrolysis and yeast fermentation.

Our downstream processing options include:• Cell separation by continuous

separation and both vacuum drum and pressure filtration.

• Product “polishing” by microfiltration to remove all process microbes.

• Cell disruption by high pressure homogenization (600 bar) for release of intracellular products.

• Protein concentration by tubular and plate-and-frame ultrafiltration.

• Freeze-drying of e.g. cell- or protein concentrates (maximum capacity cf. 20 kg per run).


three pilot fermenters (all from New

Brunswick Scientific, USA)

• IF 40, working volume 28 dm3

• IF 400, working volume 300 dm3

• BioFlo PRO, working volume 1200 dm3

dOWNsTreAM PrOcessiNG eQUiPMeNTindustrial technology in a research



• Larox (Finland, now Outotec) pilot

scale drum filtration unit

• Precoat (filter aid) or belt filtration,

filtering surface area 1 m2

• Similar to corresponding industrial


• Open system (non-aseptic, non-


• Suitable for separating e.g. fungal

culture broths

• Capacity 200-400 dm3/h depending

on filtration qualities of the culture

• Efficient clarification of most mycelial



• Alfa Laval separator, type BPTX


• Capacity ca. 100-350 dm3/h ,

10000 x g

• Similar to corresponding industrial


• Closed system (contained, “almost


• Suitable for yeast and bacterial


Page 7: VTT pilot plants


fermentation and downstream processing

CELL DiSRUPtiON • High-pressure homogeniser (Rannie,

Denmark), feed rate 50-60 dm3/h ,

max pressure 700 bar, mainly for

bacteria and yeasts

ULtRAfiLtRAtiON tubular modules• PCI (UK) membrane modules,

4 x 2.6 m2

• Identical to corresponding industrial

equipment (higher process volumes

→ more tubes)

• For concentration of proteins

• Nominal cut-off 25 kDa, actual

cut-off apparently lower

• Working pressure >5 bar, circulation

>50 dm3/min

• Pressure-drop protection for

unsupervised operation

Plate and frame modules • Millipore (France) Pellicon equipment,

modules á 2 m2

• Identical to industrial equipment

(higher process volumes → more


• Cut-off 10 kDa for protein

concentration (4 modules; other

cut-off units also obtainable)

• Cut-off 1000 kDa D for microfiltration

(4 modules)

• Working pressure <1.0 bar, circulation

<50 dm3/min

fREEZE DRyiNG• Christ Epsilon 2-25 DS lyophilizer

• Water removal from almost anything

• Capacity 15-20 dm3 in open trays


• Capacity 2-10 dm3 in sterilized vials

Other operations, e.g. various extrac-tion procedures, vacuum evaporation etc. are also available at other pilot facilities within VTT. In addition, protein purifica-tion by versatile chromatographic means is available in-house.

The pilot services at VTT assist the bioprocess, energy, forest and food and beverage industries in the development of new processes and products. Tests in pilot scale can be used to evaluate process concepts before scale-up into

full scale industrial production, which always involves huge investment costs. Information obtained in pilot scale can be of immense value prior to final decision-making.

AddiTiONAL iNfOrMATiONJouni AhtinenKey Account ManagerTel. +358 50 353 [email protected]

Michael BaileySenior ScientistTel. +358 50 516 0720 [email protected]

Page 8: VTT pilot plants




• Production of healthy and tasty food ingredients by

- microbes and enzymes - dry-fractionation• Efficient utilization of nutritious

berry and cereal fractions in foods

• Value added & affordable food products from plant-based side-streams, such as cereal brans, brewers’ spent grains and press cakes from berries and rape seed

• Starter cultures and probiotic bacteria in baking and beverages

food pilot plants

VTT offers process and product development services for food and beverage infustry in a pilot scale. With our long-term research experience and development know-how we can offer new solutions for ingredient production and design of value added products. Let our experts help you to minimise risks and costs on the way from laboratory to industrial production

We can provide full service with a comprehensive set of analytical tools to characterize the process and the product. In addition, products can be subjected to sensory profiling by a certified sensory panel. Pilot services can be accompa-nied with other research services such as literature reviews, development of new product concepts, identification of poten-tial health effects and assessment of sus-tainability. Our broad network of industrial and scientific partners is available for complementary work. VTT can also take responsibility of arranging further prod-uct characterization, for example through clinical trials.

VTT Food pilots offer experienced per-sonnel and high quality equipment to carry out process and product develop-ment in pilot scale or to perform proof of concept trials with new product ideas. Our pilot plant also enables small-scale production for feasibility and consumer studies. Customer personnel can partici-pate in the processing trials. Production facilities are strictly food grade and the products can be used for clinical, sensory or consumer evaluation.

GriNdiNG ANd frAcTiONiNG • Fine impact milling (pin discs and

swing beater with grinding track or sieves): ca. 5–10 kg/h

• Flaking: ca. 10–30 kg/h• Air classification: ca. 1–5 kg/h,

max. 15,000 rpm rotor speed• Air-jet sieving ca. 10–100 g/h

THerMO-MecHANicAL PrOcessiNG• Twin-screw extrusion: ca. 1–10 kg/h• Pre-conditioning: ca. 4–6 kg/batch• High-pressure processing:

ca. 50–100 g/batch, max 10,000 bar• Vessels for processing and

fermentation of high consistency solutions: 1–10 dm3

drYiNG • Lyophilisation (freeze-drying):

max. 20 kg frozen sample/batch• Fluidised bed drying: 3–10 kg/batch• Spray drying: 0.5–6 kg/h

BeVerAGe PiLOT• Our malting and brewing facilities

cover the complete barley-to-beer chain. In addition we have expertise and equipment for production of other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

MALTiNG • Micro-malting units: 0.1–8 kg/batch• Pilot malting unit: 50 kg/batch

BreWiNG, exTrAcTiON ANd ferMeNTATiON• Wet and dry milling• Brewhouse: 10 and 100 dm3

Page 9: VTT pilot plants


food pilot plants

• Mash filter and lauter tun for wort separation

• Continuous fermentation by immobilized yeast

• Regular fermentation in 2, 10 and 50 dm3 tall tubes

• Sheet filters • Bottling

PiLOT BAkerY• We are dedicated to development

and small-scale production of novel bakery products, especially sourdough, high-fibre and/or wholegrain baking.

BAkiNG• Screening and optimization of

ingredients and baking processes• Analysis methods for predicting

baking quality• Development of health promoting

bakery products• Prolonged shelf-life of bakery

products• Frozen dough technology• Enzyme applications• Sourdough applications• New product concepts, from

innovation to implementation

VTT is actively developing new

food solutions in a NUTRITECH

programme (www.nutritech.fi)

aiming at new concepts for

promotion of consumer health

and well-being.


The pilot hall was renovated in 2009

following high hygienic standards.

We have equipments for particle

size reduction and separation of

components by dry fractionation

technologies. In addition, we provide

different kinds of thermo-mechanical

processes and drying operations.

AddiTiONAL iNfOrMATiONJuhani SibakovResearch ScientistTel. +358 40 536 [email protected]

Annika WilhelmsonKey Account ManagerTel. +358 44 555 [email protected]

Mirja MokkilaKey Account ManagerTel. +358 40 525 [email protected]

Page 10: VTT pilot plants


Plastics processing pilots

We are surrounded by plastics - there is virtually no consumer or industrial product without a plastic component. The VTT plastic processing pilot located in Tampere offers state-of-the-art tools to develop and scale-up new material solutions through thermoplastic processing and converting.

Compounding• ThermoHaake Mini-compounder• Several co-rotating 25 mm twin-

screw extruders with L/D rations from 25 to 48

• Berstorff High speed compounder• 2 Brabender Plasticorders for batch

and laboratory scale compounding with scCO2 feed for foaming and a Clean room option

VTT is well-equipped with equipment for production of thermoplastic (melt processable) composite materials in the range of a few grams to pilot scale with techniques such as compounding, extru-sion coating and profile extrusion, blow moulding, micropelletising, injection and compression moulding. The equipment and the processes are routinely modi-fied for the needs of changing material combinations which are literally unlim-ited in number. The plastic processing and converting services can be comple-mented with high level material property testing and characterisation as well as versatile tools for material pre- and post-treatments.

What makes VTT’s capacity truly unique is the possibility for modification and synthesis of materials at the mono-mer stage, followed by polymerisation and versatile melt processing techniques including composite compounding and combination with other processing such as paper production. The whole chain from material production to modifica-tion and finally to application is control-led and can be modified according to customer needs. VTT has gained special competence in the areas of thermoplastic biocomposites and polymer nanocom-posites. More recently plastic foaming has become one of our focus areas, sup-ported by acquisition of two new equip-ment for physical foaming of materials both in laboratory and pilot scale.

injection moulding• ThermoElectron Mini-Injection

moulding machine with moulds for e.g. tensile, impact, DMA specimen

• Engel ES 200/50 HL with 50 tons clamping force, 25 mm screw and instrumented mould having interchangeable inserts

• Demag Ergotech 100/420-120 EL Exis S with 100 tons clamping force, 22 mm screw, maximum injection speed 1000 mm/s

Extrusion• Tandem extrusion. 300 mm wide

sheet preform, 3-layer film with N2-rinsing possibility for film and extrusion coating. Capacity for physical expansion of the core layer with supercritical liquids.

• Mini-extrusion facility for small scale screening

• Blown film extrusion• Extruder with 100 mm and 120 mm

wide sheets preform and roundstrip with 4 screw geometries with different compression and a clean room possibility

PrOcessiNG fAciLiTies

BiOCOMPOSitESThe demand for renewable plastic mate-rials is on steady growth. The price of plastics of non-renewable origin may be reduced with a low cost bio-based addi-tives such as bark, sawdust or other side-stream materials. With proper com-posite design, these low cost, partially fibrous additives can also be expected to improve the properties of the plastics. A more ambitious target is the production of entirely bio-based material with techni-cal properties similar to those of modern engineering plastics, even those with rein-forcement. Ultimately, transparent materials with mechanical properties at the level of steel may be expected by a combination of nanoscale cellulose particles with the right resin – both with 100% bio-based content.

Page 11: VTT pilot plants


Plastics processing pilots

AddiTiONAL iNfOrMATiONOuti HärkkiKey Account Manager, Team LeaderFunctional plasticsTel. +358 40 164 [email protected]

Kalle NättinenPrincipal Scientist, Team LeaderBiomaterials and processingTel. +358 40 534 [email protected]

Post processing facilities• MD-stretching unit• Biaxial laboratory stretcher

Brückner Milling and fractionation• Hosakawa Alpine Separating mill

100 g – 30 kg/h, Particle size 0.5 - 10 μm, Powder grading.

• Hosokawa Alpine AHM-90 Pearl Mill with several pearl sets

• Several Ball mills• Gala Micro-pelletiser for production

of round 0.2-1 mm pellets for e.g. rotation moulding

Coatings and surface treatments• AC Corona treatment unit• Atmospheric plasma treatment

unit• Atmospheric plasma deposition unit TesTiNG fAciLiTies• Mechanical testing• Material properties• Microscopy and particle size

analysis• Spectroscopy

Natural materials are a logical choice for reinforcement of bioplastics: the com-patibility is usually better, the composition remains completely renewable and recy-cling by biodegradation or incineration causes no problems . These additives can be incorporated in the composite struc-ture by melt compounding, using powerful mixing technologies to disperse the addi-tives in the polymer melt. For good dis-persion and distribution, the compatibility of the additives with the host polymers needs to be good. This can be ensured either by selection of the materials or by modification of the additive surface to cre-ate physical or chemical linkages between the two constituents.

The world-class biocomposite experi-ence of VTT has been accumulated and

tested in 20+ cooperative and contract research projects over 15 years.

POLyMER NANOCOMPOSitESPolymers compounded, milled or other-wise mixed with nano-metric size organic or inorganic filler materials enhance the performance of traditional plastic materi-als. With expertise and careful planning these polymeric materials can reach a new desired combination of proper-ties due to the tailored interaction of the individual material components at the nanolevel.

The polymer nanocomposites experi-ence has been accumulated and tested in numerous cooperative and contract research projects during the past decade.

technical approaches for new polymer nanocomposites• Highly conductive compounds,

electrical and thermal conductivity for energy applications

• Dielectric compounds for electrical applications

• Gas and vapour barriers• Optimization of the overall performance

profile of traditionally highly filled plastics, e.g. fire retardance, UV-resistance and/or mechanical properties

Page 12: VTT pilot plants

From an idea to the final product

Pilot plants for bio and process technologyVTT TECHNICAL RESEARCH CENTRE OF FINLAND

Tekniikantie 4 A, EspooP.O. Box 1000, FI-02044 VTT, FinlandTel. +358 20 722 111, Fax +358 20 722 7001www.vtt.fi

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is the largest

multitechnological applied research organisation in Northern

Europe. VTT provides high-end technology solutions and

innovation services.

From its wide knowledge base, VTT can combine different

technologies, create new innovations and a substantial

range of world class technologies and applied research

services thus improving its clients’ competitiveness and


Through its international scientific and technology network,

VTT can produce information, upgrade technology

knowledge, create business intelligence and value added to

its stakeholders. VTT is a non-profit-making research