Vilhelm Krarup Møller Student DTU Bioengineering. Foto: Mikal Schlosser.

Biomass sensor to simplify experiments

Tuesday 26 Feb 19


Kristoffer Buch
Project Manager
+45 21 18 00 63


Vilhelm Krarup Møller
DTU Bioengineering
45 50 71 28 99
Students behind spin-out from DTU Bioengineering develop web-based technology to simplify laboratory experiments.

The methods used within microbiology are now so advanced that it is very time-consuming and requires considerable technical know-how to carry out experiments efficiently. Three students at the spin-out Recombiotics from DTU will address this problem by automating laboratory processes and using technology based on the Internet of Things (IoT). The first product from the company is a sensor that can measure the concentration of biomass directly from a laboratory flask.

“Our vision is to produce laboratory equipment which is so simple that anyone can use it, while simplifying work in the laboratories by standardizing routine tasks such as cell enrichment,” says Recombiotics co-founder Vilhelm Krarup Møller, who is studying biotechnology and synthetic biology at DTU.

LED technology

The technology in the new biomass sensor is based on an light-emitting diode, LED, and a measuring plate, which registers how much light can pass through the liquid in the flask. The cloudiness of the liquid can be used to measure the quantity of biomass which is produced by the cells. The sensor measures how much dry matter is in the flask, and sends the measured results to a website, which can be operated via a computer or mobile phone. The program can also be equipped with an alarm, which warns when the biomass concentration reaches a specified level.

As a student at DTU, Vilhelm Krarup Møller noticed that advanced machines such as liquid handling robots often end up in the basement, because many months of training are required to operate them. According to Vilhelm, this is partly because programming is a new discipline for biologists, as a special programming language with a user-friendly interface has not yet been developed for handling biological data. This means that researchers need to learn how to enter codes for the underlying values in the individual cells in an Excel sheet for all the values they want to register in an experiment.

Business plan

The three DTU students have received help from DTU Skylab to develop a business plan and to examine whether there is a market for their invention. Based on contacts in the biotech industry, Recombiotics has started collaborating with Novo Nordisk, which wants to test the three students’ sensor.

Concurrently with developing the automated biomass sensor, the three students are cooperating with a patent office in Copenhagen to patent their invention. They have chosen to undertake the task of patenting on their own, instead of entering into collaboration with DTU, in order to retain their 100 per cent stake in the business.

Recombiotics’ automated biomass sensor and website will be online at the end of 2019, when researchers can access the site with a code to view the data they have received from a sensor in an experiment.

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