The applications of fermentation include a wide range of uses of the fermentation process. Fermentation is used in various sectors such as in pharmaceuticals, brewing, baking, and dairy industry. Fermentation also gives us a health benefit as it benefits our digestive system through nutritious fermented foods. Fermentation is the process by which microbes convert carbohydrates to ethanol and lactic acids.
Applications of fermentation were started from ancient times. People had been taking the advantages of fermentation to produce cheese or wine since 7000 BC. Luis Pasteur was the first person who discovered fermentation is caused by living organisms in 1857.
Applications of fermentation in biotechnology:
Uses of fermentation in our everyday life benefit us in a wide range. Ten applications of fermentation are given below.
1. In Alcoholic beverage(brewing):
The importance of fermentation is widely known in the brewing industry for alcohol production. Yeast enzyme ferments sugar to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. Various alcoholic beverages, for example, beer, wine are produced from the fermentation of yeast and sugar such as grapes, rice, grain, and berries. A yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae carries this fermentation.
2. In Yogurt production (Dairy):
Two bacteria ferment milk to produce milk. These bacteria are Streptococcus lactis and Lactobacillus bulgaricus or Lactobacillus acidophilus. These bacteria uptake lactose from the milk, condense the milk, produce chemicals lactic acid and acetaldehyde that make the yogurt highly tasty.
3. In Bread Making (baking):
When a small amount of sugar and yeast is added to the batter of the bread, sugar is fermented and carbon dioxide gas is formed. Yeast enzyme carries this process. The carbon dioxide increases the bulkiness and texture of the bread. Various types of bacteria added to the fermentation process gives the desired flavor to the food products. Lactobacillus delbruckii helps in fermentation to produce rye bread.
4. In producing Vitamin C:
Vitamin C or Ascorbic acid is a very essential nutrient for humans. A human can’t synthesize nutrients by himself. Vitamin C is produced in two steps by the fermentation process. D-sorbitol is converted to L- sorbose and L-sorbose are converted to L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). This fermentation process is mediated by Gluconobacter oxydans.
5. In Fuel production:
You know, fermentation mainly produces ethyl alcohol or ethanol. This ethanol is used to produce Gasohol. Gasohol is a combination of gasoline and alcohol. Gasohol is used as fuel for cars in the United States. It reduces more air pollution than gasoline. Methane is another fuel that is produced by fermentation through the action of Methonosarcina and Methanothrix. These strains convert acetate or formate to methane.
6. In wastewater treatment:
The fermentation process plays an important role in the treatment of wastewater. In the activated sludge process, aerobic bacteria dissolve the organic materials in wastewater through the fermentation process. This fermentation process converts solid wastes organic materials into carbon dioxide water and mineral salts.
7. In the preservation of food:
In fermentation to make food, good bacteria are encouraged to grow and harmful bacteria are inhibited. Good bacteria thus prevent spoilage of foods.
Alcohol and acid are good factors that prevent spoilage by inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. For example acids in fruits and vegetables protect the foods from spoilage.
8. In producing biopolymer:
Biopolymers are produced by microorganisms using the fermentation process. These biopolymers include gelatin, starch, cellulose, chitin, polyvinyl acetate, and collagen, etc. Biopolymers are applied in packaging, water purification, synthesis of nanomaterials, biomedical applications, food industry. The microorganisms that mediate fermentation to produce biopolymers include Rhodobacter sphaeroides, Mycobacterium sp. WA81, Xanthomonas, Gluconacetobacter xylinus, Bacillus subtilis, etc.
9. In Medicine:
Some antibiotics or other drugs are produced through the fermentation process. For example, a fermentation process produces drug cortisone from diosgenin (A plant steroid). The enzyme that helped this fermentation process came from a mold Rhizopus nigricans. Pharmaceutical product glycerol is produced from molasses by Saccharomyces cerevisiae using fermentation.
10. Health benefit:
Fermentation improves digestion by degrading nutrients into digestible forms. Soybean is rich in protein that can’t be digested without fermentation. Lactobacilli convert this bean into digestible amino acids through the fermentation process. Many people can’t tolerate milk sugar lactose. Through fermentation, Bifidobacterium lactis converts lactose of milk into digestible lactic acid.
To know more about the applications of fermentation see this article- 5 uses of fermentation.
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