Bioprocessing & Bioreactors

Scalable mass flow control for bioreactor and fermenter applications

As your process moves rapidly from R&D through to full scale production, repeatable & scalable flow control for bioprocessing is crucial for successful production of biologics and biosimilars. Robust process control creates consistent bioreactor and fermenter yields, and easy integration with a Pharma 4.0 setup can ensure data integrity while smoothing the transition through process development stages.

Flexibility, redundancy, and easy servicing minimize downtime for biologics manufacturers. The ability to use a single device for multiple gases at multiple flow rates without requiring recalibration in your lab, pilot plant, or cGMP production facility means that the device footprint stays small without any loss of capability or accuracy.

Mass flow meters and controllers which scale with your development help get your drugs to market, fast.

If you know your operating conditions, click below to request a quote online. You can also contact us to discuss your project with an applications engineer.

Get a quote online

For research scientists

Two MC-Series flow controllers for bioprocessing in a 1 L bioreactor, and connected to a laptop.When you need flexibility to experiment with cell lines and seed trains, and the equipment to ensure the integrity of your experiments, a single flow controller can meet your flow ranges for any gas or gas blend, without requiring recalibration. This saves cost and benchtop space, so you have room for all of your equipment.

You’re the fermentation expert, or the biochemist, or the cell biologist, so let us handle the flows. Give us a call, and an engineer will answer the phone to provide the flow science expertise you need – so you can focus on your experiments.

Device recommendation: MC-Series

MC-Series flow controllers are simple, low-cost solutions, which will enable your research to move forward quickly and easily. They’re robust enough to handle a splash of media, and fully configurable to meet all of your needs.


  • Accurate, precise, and repeatable: Alicats are accurate to ± 0.6% of reading or ± 0.1% of full scale (whichever is greater), and can read flows down to to 0.001 mL/min and up to 5,000 L/min.
  • Gas Select: You can switch the device between 98 pre-loaded gases, or your own blends, without recalibrating, enabling you to control the feeds of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and air into your culture with just a button click.
  • Operating range: A 10,000:1 turndown ratio means that a single flow meter or controller can handle a very wide range of flows, from 0.01-100% of the full scale of the instrument.
  • Environmental stability: Mass flow control is not a function of temperature, so you can experiment with various operating temperatures (or turn on the air conditioning) without influencing your gas feeds.
  • Flexible: Gas Select and high turndown in combination mean that a single Alicat flow controller can accomplish what would otherwise require multiple controllers. Plus, they’re fully configurable.







For automation engineers

Four MC-Series flow controllers flowing gases into a single-use, pilot-scale bioreactor and connected to a controller.As you scale your process from 1 L to 2,000 L, flow controllers with unmatched scalability and repeatability give you the best control of your critical process parameters and your process troubleshooting. These devices can easily integrate with your existing control systems and data centers.

Single-use bioreactors have brought unprecedented scalability and flexibility, particularly for orphan and rare drug treatments and genetic therapies. We like equipment with built-in redundancies and which meets your needs at all scales without complicating your setups.

Device recommendation: MC-Series or Bio-Series

MC-Series flow controllers are robust and have fully configurable hardware and software. They were originally designed for lab and metrology settings, but perform admirably in all environments. Bio-Series mass flow controllers take the original Alicat core and integrate it into a design specifically for integration into bioprocessing applications.


  • Alicat core: All devices maintain their accuracy and repeatability across environments and applications. They are fully configurable to match your setup.
  • Materials compatibility: Options for USP Class VI elastomers, 316L stainless steel flow bodies, and sensors and valves compliant with ASME BPE-2016 are available with any devices, and standard in the Bio-Series.
  • Simple integration: Analog and serial communications available, including industrial communications protocols, to integrate your flow controllers into you existing data systems.







For design engineers

Bio-Series flow controllers integrated into a control system to flow gases into a commercial-scale bioreactor in a cGMP environment.When building a system to maximize uptime, each additional flow line and piece of equipment introduces a potential system failure point – and increasing time to market for lifesaving treatments.

Simplify your system using flow controllers with built-in redundancies and fewer potential points of failure.

Device recommendation: Bio-Series

Bio-Series mass flow controllers turned the Alicat hardware and software core into a flow control solution specifically for bioprocessing. They come standard with ASME-BPE 2016-compliant materials, industrial communication protocols, and a color display for maximum readability even in dark environments.


  • System health checks: Valve drive percentage is displayed on the device screen, acting as a secondary check on the overall system functionality.
  • Materials compatibility: Standard with USP Class VI Viton elastomers and 316L stainless steel flow body, with various options for sensors and valves. IP- and ATEX-rated devices are also available, to withstand your validated cleaning procedures.
  • Easy integration: Options for analog and serial communications (RS-232, RS-485, Modbus RTU, Profibus, Ethernet/IP, DeviceNet, Modbus TCP/IP, and EtherCAT) to fully integrate your flow system with your SCADA and other data centers. Hardware connector options will ensure that your flow controllers easily slot into your setup.
  • Full configurability: Alicats have trillions of configurations, to design devices specific for your system and setup.
  • Custom and turnkey solutions: When existing configurations are insufficient or if you’d like to design an integrated flow solution, our engineering team will work with you to design a solution specific to your environment.


Learn more about the Alicat Bio-Series







White paper: More Efficient Flow Control for Bioreactors and Bioprocess Systems

A demonstration of reducing cost and complexity of bioreactor gas inputs utilizing high controllable range, multi-gas, differential pressure-based mass flow controllers

Original flow diagram showing complicated flow lines and compared to the simplified flow diagram using Alicat MFCs.

A premier global biologics manufacturer used the Alicat Bio-Series to simplify their flow lines in a commercial production facility. Their original schema required low and high flow lines for oxygen and process air due to the limited operating range of thermal mass flow controllers. The final schema took advantage of Alicat’s 10,000:1 turndown range to simplify the flow lines.

This eliminates potential points of failure in the system, which serves to maximize the uptime of the system. The reduction results in a 33% cost savings in parts and construction time, and fewer spare devices are now required: a single Alicat can be swapped in to any point in this system without requiring reconfiguration or recalibration.

Variety of Alicat mass flow controllers in a line.

Device Guide for Bioprocessing: Which Alicat do I need?

Alicat Scientific mass flow meters and controllers are highly configurable, which gives you the ability to customize your devices for specific application needs. For bioprocessing, this often means focusing on scalability and working within a highly controlled regulatory framework.

This device guide gives an overview of how Alicats are used in bioprocessing and compares three series of Alicats. We’ll also recommend devices for various settings and applications – benchtop research, pilot facilities, and GMP commercial production.

Headspace monitoring for real-time control of culture growth

Measuring outgassed material in the headspace of a bioreactor is a powerful tool for understanding the metabolic activity of your cell culture and the effectiveness of your bioreactor setup. While it is more resource intensive than simply measuring dissolved oxygen and pH, outgassing measurements ensure that your culture is healthy, that you can maximize your yields, and that you can effectively scale the reaction.

mfc bioprocessing flow control
Bioreactor facility

13 tools to use in planning for biologics scale-up

  1. Plan for FDA approvals
  2. Design for commercial production in a GMP cleanroom
  3. Strengthen your supply chain
  4. Classic Lean manufacturing: it’s not just for Toyota
  5. Maximize use of your pilot plants
  6. Standardize, preferably on single-use equipment
  7. Keep in mind the differences between biologics and small molecule APIs
  8. Opt for single-use equipment whenever possible
  9. De-risk your technology transfers
  10. Integrate and automate early
  11. Get everyone familiar with the regulatory landscape
  12. Scale down effectively
  13. Take advantage of non-GMP environments when you are able

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