Fermentation in Industry

As a biotechnological processes that largely cultivate microorganisms from renewable feedstocks, fermentation is becoming increasingly popular for sustainable production from a wide range of applications. In order to reduce our dependence on chemicals and fossil fuel products, many industries have begun using fermentation technique to manufacture commercial products. Fermentation are now used to produce different types of products in various industries, including but not limited to:

  • Food Industry
  • Pharmaceutical or Biopharmaceuticals
  • Agricultural Feed Products
  • Bio-fertilizer
  • Textile Manufacturing
  • Materials Industry
  • Energy Industry

The relationship between fermentation and human life.Figure 1. The relationship between fermentation and human life. (Feng, R.; et al. 2018)

Fermentation for Pigments

Pigments synthesized through chemical reactions can cause many serious health hazards such as toxicity, carcinogenicity and teratogenicity. Therefore, more and more natural pigments, which are more environmentally friendly and safe, are being developed to replace the application of organic pigments. Pigments obtained from the fermentation of various agro-industrial residues by bacteria, fungi, yeast, etc. have many irreplaceable advantages, such as low cost, waste utilization property, no health risk to humans, and low energy consumption. The technologies commonly used for pigment fermentation production are submerged fermentation and solid state fermentation (SSF)

Fermentation for Biopolymers

Synthetic polymers are prepared from non-renewable raw materials such as petroleum, and can exist in the ecosystem for many years, thus affecting organisms at multiple trophic levels. In general, the chemical synthesis of polymers is often accompanied by the application of toxic reagents and organic solvents and high energy consumption. With the spread of green chemistry and sustainability concepts, a large number of polymers can be efficiently produced through microbial fermentation. Biopolymer, a kind of new environmentally friendly biopolymer obtained from a variety of microorganisms and plants, has the potential to replace polymers of fossil origin in the future. By introducing non-toxic and non-hazardous chemicals and advanced fermentation techniques, various biopolymers such as hyaluronic acid (HA), polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxypropionic acid (PHA), etc. can be manufactured efficiently and cost-effectively.

Fermentation for Biodiesel

Fossil fuels are non-renewable and have posed serious issues such as global warming and health hazards. To reduce the dependence on petroleum-derived diesel fuels, research on renewable and eco-friendly biodiesel production technologies is increasing. Biodiesel can be manufactured from vegetable oils, animal fats, waste oils, and microbial lipids. The fermentation process to produce biodiesel can not only reduce the production cost but also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Technologies that have been developed and applied include: fermentation of biodiesel from non-edible plants, oil-containing microorganisms, waste or recycled oils and animal fats.

Fermentation for Natural Adhesives

In response to environmental issue and resource problems, natural adhesives obtained by formulating from biological raw materials are being designed and studied to replace adhesives produced from fossil resources in the future. Advanced fermentation technologies such as solid-state fermentation and precision fermentation offer a promising tool to obtain safe and healthy natural adhesives. These natural adhesives have excellent properties and good working performance.

Fermentation for Biosurfactants

Biosurfactants are a class of active compounds produced on the surface of microbial cells and can be produced by the fermentation of bacteria, yeast and filamentous fungi. Many inexpensive industrial or agricultural by-products can be used as substrates in fermentation processes to produce biosurfactants on a large scale, which can effectively reduce costs. Compared to synthetic surfactants, biosurfactants obtained from fermentation production have several advantages including biodegradability, low toxicity, better foaming properties and stable activity.

Flow diagram of an industrial fed-batch fermentation process.Figure 2. Flow diagram of an industrial fed-batch fermentation process. (Chen, X. 2021)

Fermentation for Leather

Traditional leather is manufactured by treating it with chromium, which can cause many diseases and pollute water, soil and air. Considering a wide range of drawbacks of leather production, cleaner and greener fermentation techniques are developed and used to reduce some of the dangers and toxins in the leather tanning process. Yeast, collagen, and lactic acid have been shown to be fermented to produce leather with considerable strength and elasticity.

Fermentation for Nylon

Polyamide (PA), also known as nylon, has been widely used in pharmaceutical, textile, electronics, automotive, and engineering plastics industries. The cyclic structure of the lactam is a precursor for the manufacture of nylon. The production of nylon precursors by microbial fermentation avoids greenhouse gas emissions and environmental pollution caused by harsh chemicals.

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BOC Sciences provides fermentation CDMO service for various industries. With our complete quality management system and strong fermentation capabilities, we are able to help customers facilitate their fermentation related projects and support them from laboratory to commercialization.

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  1. Feng, R.; et al. Fermentation trip: amazing microbes, amazing metabolisms. Annals of microbiology. 2018. 68(11): 717-729.
  2. Chen, X. Pseudo-Labeling Optimization Based Ensemble Semi-Supervised Soft Sensor in the Process Industry. Sensors. 2021. 21.

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