A Batch Fermentation Experiment for L-Lysine Production in the Senior Laboratory


  • David R. Shonnard Michigan Technological University
  • Edward R. Fisher Michigan Technological University
  • David W. Caspary Michigan Technological University


The chemical industry is more frequently using biochemical processing for commodity, specialty, and pharmaceutical products, and as a result, chemical engineering graduates are finding increasing opportunities in biotechnology-related companies. We have created a fermentation experiment for the senior laboratory in order to expose our graduates to a complex biochemical process for the production of the amino acid L-lysine using batch fermentation. During a semester offering, six student teams conducted six fermentation experiments constituting an experiment plan designed to increase student understanding of microbial metabolism and to enhance product yield. During these trials, students observed variations in cellular growth and product yield in response to changes in two process variables, initial glucose concentration and initial growth supplement concentration (L-threonine, L-methionine, and L-leucine). From these long-term experiments (52 hours), increased L-lysine yield was observed for two of the six experiments.

Author Biographies

David R. Shonnard, Michigan Technological University

David R. Shonnard is Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Michigan Technological University His research and teaching interests are in the areas of environmentally conscious design of chemical and biochemical processes, optimization, life-cycle assessment, and cell-based in-vitro toxicology. He is coauthor of 2 books in environmentally-conscious design and over 40 peer-reviewed publications.

Edward R. Fisher, Michigan Technological University

Edward R. Fisher received his BSc from Berkeley in 1961 and his PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 1965, both in chemical engineering. After teaching for 35 years at Wayne State University and Michigan Technological University, he recently retired as Professor Emeritus in Chemical Engineering and Chemical Engineering Technology

David W. Caspary, Michigan Technological University

David W. Caspary is Manager of Laboratory Facilities in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Michigan Tech University. He received his BSc from Michigan Tech in 1982 and has held several engineering positions with the ChE department over the past nineteen years. He is currently co-instructing the Chemical Plant Operations and Unit Operations Laboratory courses.