Figure 3. Membrane reactor system

As already mentioned, there are several biological and engineering disadvantages that need to be solved in conventional production methods. To overcome these disadvantages, we have developed a novel bioreactor process, the membrane reactor system, using microbial cells without artificial immobilization for the enzymatic reaction. Co-ryneform bacterium MJ-233, which is employed in this process, is characterized by nonlytic properties under non-growing conditions. The cost of the enzyme is low because the bacterial cells can be reused repeatedly for enzymatic reactions without immobilization. Intracellular components such as protein and nucleic acid do not leak out, so the purity of the products is very high. From the engineering stand point, the ultrafiltration membrane system is employed for recycling bacterial cells (Fig. 3). The advantages of the ultrafiltration process are as follows:

1. Damage of bacterial cells by compression is reduced compared with centrifugation.

2. Capital outlay and running costs are relatively low.

3. Operation and maintenance are easier.

On the basis of these properties, we established an economical new bioprocess for the production of L-aspartic acid (10-13).

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