PBS Biotech Creates Innovative Bioreactor Platform Using LabVIEW and NI Single-Board RIO

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"We found that the combination of LabVIEW and NI hardware was infinitely configurable to meet our needs, leading to rapid development, continuous improvements throughout the life cycle of the product, and, most importantly, a compact and simple controller architecture."

- Daniel Giroux, PBS Biotech Inc.

The Challenge:
Designing novel, single-use bioreactors that differentiate themselves from the competition by their performance and ease of use.

The Solution:
Using NI LabVIEW and NI Single-Board RIO to develop compact bioreactors with a common control platform.

Daniel Giroux - PBS Biotech Inc.

Bioreactors are vessels used to cultivate mammalian cell cultures for the production of cell-derived pharmaceuticals and vaccines. They have to implement many tasks precisely, including isolating the culture content from potential microbial contamination, keeping the cells suspended in the culture medium, and precisely controlling the temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen levels.

Our PBS bioreactor design was based on the need for a platform that both performed better and was easier to use than current bioreactors. To achieve these goals, PBS bioreactors were designed to be compact, integrated units that comprise both the culture chamber and an integrated controller all in one preconfigured modular unit. These bioreactors feature a variety of sizes to meet the various needs of biomanufacturers. The design goal is for the entire line of PBS bioreactors to share a common control platform.

Rapid Prototyping and Infinite Flexibility With NI Single-Board RIO and LabVIEW

Traditional bioreactors and bioprocessing platforms use standard control platforms such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and distributed control systems (DCSs) along with custom hardware. We decided to use NI off-the-shelf hardware because of the performance and flexibility compared to traditional tools.

NI reconfigurable I/O (RIO) hardware includes a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) that we could use to develop a high-performance, reliable hardware solution without the development complexity and high costs typically associated with custom hardware. We found that the combination of LabVIEW and NI hardware was infinitely configurable to meet our needs, leading to rapid development, continuous improvements throughout the product life cycle, and, most importantly, a compact and simple controller architecture.

Within each bioreactor, there is an NI sbRIO-941 device, NI 9219 and NI 9263 board-level C Series modules, and a custom daughtercard built by Cyth Systems. The NI Single-Board RIO system interfaces with a variety of analog and digital sensors and actuators within the bioreactor to precisely control the pH, temperature, and oxygen levels of the culture in the bioreactor. We programmed the FPGA on the NI Single-Board RIO hardware using the LabVIEW FPGA Module to interface with the I/O and control I/O timing.

The main controller of each bioreactor is running on the real-time processor in the NI Single-Board RIO system and was programmed with the LabVIEW Real-Time Module. Additionally, each bioreactor features an onboard PC, which serves as a Web and database server, programmed in LabVIEW. The end result is reliability and precise control of an industrial controller along with all the flexibility and customizability traditionally associated with a PC-based solution.

The Advantage of a National Instruments Solution

In addition to the technical advantages of NI hardware and software, the sales and technical support we received from NI during our development process was invaluable to our success. NI has offered us a great amount of help, including direct engineering assistance from its engineers in Austin, Texas, as well as local technical support from NI sales and engineering. NI definitely goes above and beyond to assist its customers, and, during the process of building this application, the support and partnership from NI exceeded our expectations. NI provided tremendous technical and business value with our solution.

Author Information:
Daniel Giroux
PBS Biotech Inc.

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