The Scientist and the bacteria that contributed to establishing Israel

The Scientist and the bacteria that contributed to establishing Israel:

Chaim Weizmann:

Chaim Weizmann was a Zionist leader and president of the Zionist organization. He was also the first president of Israel.

He is famous for his ABE fermentation and is called the “Father of Industrial Fermentation”.

He was born in Belarus in 27 November 1874.

After graduation in 1892, he went to Germany to learn chemistry.  In 1899, He did his Ph.D. degree in organic chemistry.

In 1901, He joined the University of Geneva (Switzerland) as an assistant lecturer to teach chemistry.

In 1904, He joined the chemistry department of the University of Manchester (England) as a senior lecturer. In 1910, he became a British citizen and lived there till 1948.

In 1948, he became the first president of Israel and died in 1952.


Clostridium acetobutylicum:

Clostridium acetobutylicum is a mesophilic gram-positive bacteria. It survives in 10-65°C and in anaerobic conditions. It is a saccharolytic bacteria that degrade sugar into alcohol.

Sometimes, this bacteria is called the “Weizmann organism” after the name of Chaim Weizmann. Because Chaim Weizmann used this bacteria to produce acetone, butanol, and ethanol.

This is the bacteria that contributed to establishing Israel.


What was the contribution of Chaim Weizmann and Clostridium acetobutylicum?

At the beginning of the 20th century, Britain wanted to produce synthetic rubber for industrial purposes. Many scientists tried to produce rubber at a low cost. Because a little amount of rubber was produced from the sap of tropical trees.

Chaim Weizmann decided to work on the production of synthetic rubber. To produce synthetic rubber, a large amount of acetone is needed. From 1912 to 1914 he found several microbes that produce acetone and butanol. The best-producing bacteria was Clostridium acetobutylicum. This bacteria was named due to its production of acetone, butanol, and ethanol (ABE).

In 1914, Britain needed a huge amount of acetone to produce cordite during the First World War. Cordite is a propellant that is used by the British Army and Royal Navy. As Germany was an enemy of Britain and calcium acetate was produced in Germany, Britain then suffered a severe shortage of acetone. Britain had to find an alternative way to produce or obtain acetone.

Traditionally acetone was produced from calcium acetate and distillation of wood. Approximately one hundred tons of wood was needed to produce only one ton of acetone. But Britain needed to produce more cordite than Germany do.

Chaim Weizmann used Clostridium acetobutylicum to produce acetone, butanol, and ethanol. He produced these alcohols from maize, corn, rice, and, and several other kinds of cereal by fermentation. This fermentation process is known as ABE fermentation.

He showed that his ABE fermentation took 100 tons of maize to produce 12 tons of acetone. This method produced 3000 tons of acetone per year by 1917

For this contribution, Chaim Weizmann is called the father of Industrial fermentation.



How Britain was benefited:

As Britain could produce a little amount of acetone to produce cordite, it was too little to win world war one. On the other hand, most of the acetone came from Germany and Austria. But both of them were the enemy of Britain in world war one.

Due to the shortage of acetone and propellant, Britain had the possibility to lose in world war one.

At this time Chaim Weizmann found a bacterium (Clostridium acetobutylicum) that could huge amount of acetone. This acetone was used to produce a huge amount of cordite. This discovery led Britain to win the first world war.


How Israel was established:


Many people believe that the Belfour declaration from Britain to create Israel was the prize to Chaim Weizmann for his biochemical assistance in the First world war. Although he denied this claim.

But it is true that without his contribution, Britain would have failed to manufacture a large amount of propellant needed in world war one.

So, due to his scientific contribution to the First world war, Chaim Weizmann came close to the British government and played a key role in the discussion of making Palestine the national home of Jewish people.

In the first world war, Britain defeated the Ottoman Empire and started ruling Palestine.

On November 2, 1917, British foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour sent a letter to Lionel Walter Rothschild declaring that Britain will do their best endeavor to establish Israel as the national home of Jewish people. Lionel Walter Rothschild was a Zionist leader and a friend of Chaim Weizmann.

After ruling Palestine for 30 years, Britain recognized Israel as the national land of Jewish people making Chaim Weizmann the first president of Israel 1948.

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