Cassidy Hoag, Riley Hudson, Austin Mayo, Ryan Miller, Fnu Mishal, Chase Montgomery, Mike Moran, Paul Swift
The pressure controlled autonomous reactor (P-CAR), is a micro-bioreactor capable of environmental extrema attempting to simulate extreme environments or extra-terrestrial atmospheric conditions. The P-CAR exceeds the customer’s needs for the heating and cooling time as well as the temperature range. The P-CAR is also capable of producing a wide range of pressures between atmospheric pressure down to a near vacuum with 100% control over the proportion of gases within the chamber. Along with these capabilities, the other functions are designed specifically to survive the rugged conditions for a robust system. Some additional objectives that were heavily considered while designing the P-CAR were to make sure the design was small, simple, safe, and as cost effective as possible while making use of ordinary lab equipment such as a laptop to supplement its function. Key features of the design include a reversible heat pump that quickly heats and cools not only the entire environment, but also directly heats and cools the acrylic place that holds the well plate. The same acrylic plate is actuated by lead screws, which double as the culture agitator motion as well as the transport method between necessary functions such as the liquid dispenser, heater, and ODFI. Additionally, a rotating ODFI arm allows for the synergy of seamless continuous measurement of any size well plate as well as the ability to rotate 90 degrees to perform measurements on the test tubes. The resulting prototype is an affordable automated micro bioreactor with unparalleled environmental testing capabilities.