ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What is Fermentation

Updated on September 18, 2013

Fermentation is the oldest of all the biological processes. The term fermentation was derived from latin word FEVERE which means to boil with foam. Fermentation can be defined as a process of chemical change caused by micro organisms or their products usually producing effervescence.

Microbiologists consider fermentation as;

“Any process for production of a product by means of mass culture of micro organisms”.

According to Biochemists;

“Fermentation is an energy generating process where organic compounds act as both electron donors and acceptors”.

Thus, fermentation according to biochemists is an anaerobic process. In general, microbiologists’ view of fermentation is widely accepted.

Today fermentation technology is considered as indispensable part of human life. Many products of day to day human life are being produced by fermentation. Today many industries ranging from distilleries to food processing employ fermentation as an important process. Antibiotics, alcohols, amino acids, vitamins, organic acids are the most important fermentation products. Many human proteins of pharmaceutical value like blood clotting factors, insulin, growth hormone and interferon are also developed through fermentation. In addition, recombinant vaccines are produced by the process of fermentation.

History of Fermentation Development

Fermentation is the oldest of all biotechnological processes. It is defined as a process of production of useful products by mass culture of microbes. Fermentation had been in use from the ancient times. Even though the principles of fermentation were not known, people used fermentation from the ancient times. There are evidences of alcohol and the other beverages production as well as bread by fermentation during 8000 BC itself. In 8000 BC, people living in East Africa, close to Nile used to produce 6 types of beers. In China, by 3000 BC fermented soybean was used to treat skin diseases. Even evidence dated back to 220 BC show that Chinese used fermented tea as a medicine for many diseases. Soma and Sura drinks of Vedic times were also fermented beverages. In medieval times many people tried to understand the process behind the spoiling of fruit juices. In 1707, Berzelius, the famous chemist considered the fermentation was caused by factors called ferments. But, he could not elaborate what exactly they are.

Man started knowing the scientific basis of fermentation from middle of the 19th century. In 1854, Louis Pasteur of France has identified that yeast, a unicellular fungus was responsible for fermentation. His experiments were based on previous studies carried out by Theodore Schwann. In 1840s, Louis Pasteur found that alcohol production by fermentation was due to the action of yeast. He suggest that better quality wine can be produced by sterilized fruit juice first and the carefully fermenting it with a selected microbe. In 1857, he discovered the bacterium lactobacillus which produces lactic acid.

In 1896, Edward Buchner discovered that it was not yeast cell, but something in yeast, which was responsible for fermentation. He got Nobel prize for this in 1907. Later, Kuhne carried the term enzyme for the yeast principle of Buchner. In 1881, Robert Koch developed a technique of growing micro organisms on solidified nutrient medium. In 1926, J.B. Sumner had discovered that enzymes are chemically protein in nature. He showed that urease extracted from Jack Bean is chemically a protein. Later, in 1930s, Northrop also proved that enzymes are chemically protein. He established that trypsin and chymotrypsin are chemically proteins.

In 1929, Arthur Harden and Hans Uler Chaplin showed how enzymes carried out fermentation process. In 1930, two German biochemists, Emden and Meyerhof identified that 12 chemical reactions are responsible for formation of ethanol from glucose. In 1929, Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic penicillin. In 1940, E. Chain and H. Flores produced penicillin for the first time by fermentation. In 1944, Beczee and Libmann set up a large fermentor of more than 20 liters capacity. The first fermentor in India has been setup in 1950 at Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd., Pune. Today fermentation is widely employed in the world for a variety of products.

Requirements of Fermentation

Suitable Micro-organism: Several species of microbes both prokaryotic and eukaryotic are required in fermentation process. The prokaryotes include bacteria and cyanobacteria, whereas eukaryote include unicellular and multi cellular fungi.

Example: Lactobacillus, a bacterium for the production of lactic acid. Yeast, a fungus for the production of alcohol.

Nutrient medium: The nutrient medium is a source of macro and micro nutrient required for the growth of selected microbes. The nutrient medium is prepared by dissolving both macro and micro nutrients in distilled water. The nutrients mostly include carbon sources like different sugars (glucose, lactose, fats). Nitrogen sources like proteins, urea, ammonia nitrates. Whereas phosphates are sources of phosphorus. The nutrient medium should be sterilized.

Fermentor: The setup used to carry out fermentation is known as fermentor. The fermentors vary from lab experimental models to industrial models of thousands of liters of capacity. The function of fermentor can be improved by attaching many other instruments like thermostat which helps in temperature regulation, aerator which provides oxygen, stirrer which helps in agitating the medium and the PH detector which helps in maintaining the PH of the medium.

Process of Fermentation

The following are the steps involved in the process of fermentation;

  • Selection of a suitable microbial species that produces the desired product in maximum quantity by growing at a faster rate.
  • Preparation of the nutrient medium by dissolving nutrients required for the growth of the selected micro organism.
  • The PH of the nutrient medium shall be adjusted to suit the growing condition of the microbe.
  • The nutrient medium is later sterilized so as to eliminate the growth of unwanted microbes.
  • The actively growing microbial culture be later introduced into the nutrient medium. This is called Inoculation.
  • The inoculated microbial culture shall be allowed to grow at specific temperature for a specific period of time. Immediately after inoculation, there is a period of adaptation called lag phase. Following lag phase, the rate of growth of organism steadily increases for certain period, known as exponential phase or log phase. After this the rate of growth decreases in a phase known as deceleration phase.
  • At this stage, fermentation should be stopped. The microbial culture is generally lysed to obtain the desired product. This is called Recovery.

Products of Fermentation

The fermentation products that one involved directly in the microbial metabolism are primary metabolites. They are amino acids, vitamins, alcohols and organic acid. The phase of micro orbital growth during which the primary metabolites are produced is known as trophophase.

The products of fermentation are secondary metabolites. They are those products that have role in the microbial metabolism. Antibiotics are good example of secondary metabolites. They are produced in the microbe, but are released outside.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • dilipchandra12 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dilip Chandra 

      5 years ago from India

      Hey jseven, Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • jseven profile image

      jseven 

      5 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you for sharing the clear and indepth process of fermentation. I am making lacto-fermented foods for my health and use certain airtight containers. The art has been lost in America and it would do us well to get back to it for health's sake. Thanks for stopping by. :)

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)