The current work investigates the capability of a tailored multivariate curve resolution-alternating least squares (MCR-ALS) algorithm to analyse glucose, phosphate, ammonium and acetate dynamics simultaneously in an E. coli BL21 fed-batch fermentation. The high-cell-density (HCDC) process is monitored by ex situ online attenuated total reflection (ATR) Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and several in situ online process sensors. This approach efficiently utilises automatically generated process data to reduce the time and cost consuming reference measurement effort for multivariate calibration. To determine metabolite concentrations with accuracies between ±0.19 and ±0.96·gL-l, the presented utilisation needs primarily-besides online sensor measurements-single FTIR measurements for each of the components of interest. The ambiguities in alternating least squares solutions for concentration estimation are reduced by the insertion of analytical process knowledge primarily in the form of elementary carbon mass balances. Thus, in this way, the established idea of mass balance constraints in MCR combines with the consistency check of measured data by carbon balances, as commonly applied in bioprocess engineering. The constraints are calculated based on online process data and theoretical assumptions. This increased calculation effort is able to replace, to a large extent, the need for manually conducted quantitative chemical analysis, leads to good estimations of concentration profiles and a better process understanding.
Keywords: E. coli; alternating least squares; carbon mass balance constraint; fed-batch; fermentation; hybrid modelling; multivariate curve resolution; soft constraints.