Wednesday, June 11, 2008

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Friday, May 30, 2008

I REALLY HAVE MY DOUBTS !!

Lately or for the past few years I have heard of a Japanese company selling a concoction of microorganisms which are supposed to solve all or almost all problems of the environment from pollution to even providing nutrients for agriculture. It seems to claim everything positive using the application of the magic mixture of the microorganisms

I have been trained in microbiology especially in fermentation and industrial microbiology and I really do have my doubts about the effectiveness of the microorganisms which are claimed to be very effective

Firstly I seemed to observe in their references that no significant publications apperaed in the well reviewd scientific journals of academic respect

Secondly, the proof of the magical microorganisms have never really been demonstrated scientifically and conclusively in the laboratories or in the fields

Most of the demonstrations are just briefly shown and it is more of our faith to believe in what they say

The field experiments carried out by the promoters are not really observed and recorded daily weekly or monthly or with real scientific data really being shown. No proper experimental design was really carried out. What I saw pictures of people pouring tons of the microbial solutions into the rivers or the claims the kitchen waste will be fully disintegrated within two weeks. Why dont they carry out such experiments in a perspex or glass container and take daily pictures of the progress of the decomposition for everyone to see?

Thirdly,it seems these demonstrations are only carried out in the developing countries and not thorougly in advanced scintific countries

Personally I really doubt the claims made by these sponsors but then its not my money or reputation that is going down the drain.


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Sunday, May 25, 2008

PLANT CELL CULTURE- THE NEXT DIRECTION?



(PICTURE TAKEN FROM WWW.BOTANY.UNIMELBOURNE.EDU.AU)

(PICTURE TAKEN FROM WWW.JMU.EDU)
There are various limitations which we faced in practicing conventional agriculture for our plant food sources. Other problems include environmental factors such as drought, floods, diseases, political and labour instabilities in the producing countries. There are then also the problems of uncontrollable variations in the crop quality, inability of authorities to prevent crop adulteration, losses in storage and handling

In view of these problems there are attempts to find better ways of plant production or producing valuable metabolites from the plants using more modern technology. It is only natural and logical to try to apply what technology that have been acquired in fermentation technology to be applied in the cultivation of plant or plant cells for their products. The similarity of microbial cells and single plant cells makes it a natural prigression in the attempts to cultivate the plant cells in fermentors. This is especially so after the success of plant tissue culture in generating calluses and plantlets from explants

While it is inconceivable to grow large plants in fermentors,the situation is very practicable for the culture of plant cells itself. In trying to grow plant cells in fermentors there are problems faced especially with regard to different physical and physiological characteristics between plant cells and microbial cells

CHARACTERISTICS



----------------------MICROBIAL CELL------------------------PLANT CELL
Size --------------------2 u-------------------------------- >10 u
Shear stress ----------Insensitive----------------------------Sensitive
Water content ------------75% ------------------------------>90%
Duplication time--------<1 hour ------------------------------------days
Aeration ---------------1-2 vvm -----------------------------------0.3 vvm
Fermentation time --------Days -----------------------------------Weeks
Product accumulation ----Medium --------------------------------Vacuole
Production phase -------Uncoupled --------------------------Often growth-linked
Mutation ----------------Possible-----------------------------Requires haploids
Medium cost ($)
(MS medium)----------------8-9/m -------------------------------65-70/m

Source: Zenk, M.H., Plant Cell Culture Conference, Oyez Sci, Tech. Serv. (1982)

From the aspects of fermentation technology, the key problem areas are:
1 Plant cells are too fragile compared to microbial cells
2 Plant cells takes too long to grow in fermentors compared to microbial cells
3 Oxygen consumption is lower compared to microbial cells

As for product formation it will be a downstream problems of fermentation technology

The consequences of the three main points above are:
Since plant cells are shear sensitive supplying air or mixing will be a problems as those processes are intense shear generating forces
Too long a growth time in the fermentor will lead to the potential problem of microbial contamination to occur and fermentation disaster
Oxygen supply will have to be provided by a more suitable and controlled system

Note: In our discussion here we are more towards the cultivation of plant cells that originate from multicellular plants and not from single cell plants such as the unicellular or filamentous algae



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Saturday, May 24, 2008

IT CAME WITH A BANG AND DIED WITH A WHIMPER



(PICTURE OF THE WORLD FAMOUS TAIWAN HSINCHU SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY PARK)
There is a tradition in this country where almost everyone wants to ride the gravy train. Research is treated as a fashion where you jump on the bandwagon or wave of popularity. And everything is glorified with hype sounding names and terms such as rebranding of courses in universities with hype sounding terms such as technology. Its a perpetual re branding exercise with good dollops of marketing and massive politicking.Media blitz and self advertising or promotion rules. And as ABBA puts it "The winner takes it all". But in the end, nothing significant really resulted from all these grand ambitious projects . After all it is just the plain useless old denatured wine in a new bottle

The truth remains as long as there are "politicians" on the decision board to decide which way or priority the nations research, the face of research in this country will always remain in a time warp where nothing moves or changes or the state of research will always be static or re engineering the wheel

TECHNOLOGY PARKS AND INCUBATOR UNITS
------------------------------------
We will now discuss the problems of incubation units and technology parks in Malaysia. Ever since the success of the Silicon valley in USA in spurring technology and its commercialization many nations including Malaysia also try to ride the bandwagon/ While some countries like Taiwan succeeded in establishing the technology parks and proved its viability, there are many other countries trying to have their own imitation technology parks but did not succeed.

Technology parks or incubators are supposed to be the engine of growth which should propel and contribute to the commercialization of the products generated. Technology parks are just not just large swath of lands planted in some large tracts of former rubber or palm oil plantations where you provide roads, buildings, utilities to attract investors

Technology parks are areas of research and technology which help facilitate the translation of viable research or technological projects into economic viability


THE BEST ASSET
-------------
While facilities and support services are important the best asset in any business investment in such parks are BRAINS + IDEAS

THE TRUTH BEHIND SMART PARTNERSHIPS
-----------------------------------
Which party is really to gain? In most technology parks it is more a place where the new companies hope to get 'free money' and escape from various forms of tax reliefs
Is the partnership exploitive or one sided?

If this is so then the Technology park fails


THE STATE OF OUR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PARKS
---------------------------------------------
At least from the internet we can get the following technology parks in Malaysia

TH-NSTC SDN BHD (ENSTEK)
Technology Park Malaysia Corporation Sdn. Bhd.
Seri Iskandar Development Corporation. Sdn. Bhd.
Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP), Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP), Gelang Patah, Johor
Technology Park Malaysia Corpn Sdn. Bhd Kuala Lumpur
Kulim Technology Park Corporation Sdn. Bhd. Kulim, Kedah Darul Aman
Selangor Science Park 1 Petaling Jaya Selangor Darul Ehsan
Malaysian Technology Development Corporation Serdang Selangor Darul Ehsan

The question is how successful are they in meeting their objectives and how do they compare with the technology parks of other countries? Maybe our technology parks are more beautiful in form than substance

It is simply going to ne a waste of money and exercise in futility if these technology parks are not monitored. In the real corporate sectors 'heads must roll' in the event of business failure, but here....well....;)

One thing I have observed in most of these technology parks and incubator units are more into plant tissue culture propagations which I personally think can be done by a trained educated farmer with some basic facilities



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Friday, May 23, 2008

"WEAK LINKS" IN FERMENTATION RESEARCH IN MALAYSIA


In a way, nothing much has changed in the fermentation research scenario in Malaysia today compared to the late 50s and in the sixties.There is really no shift in paradigm or real progress in the fermentation field despite the " biotechnology explosion " of the post 70s era.

The main thrust in the fermentation research is still traditional involving mainly taxonomic studies such as isolation, identification of microorganisms involved in the fermentation. Partially this may be the poor reflection of the existing paradigm of taxonomists turned fermentation technologists wannabes.

Once the isolation,characterization studies are completed the next step carried out are just the routine standard of the mill research involving very basic laboratory scale studies which are more befitting of fermentation practicals for college undergraduates. In most cases after this stage is reached no real further studies are carried out in terms of refining the scaling up studies or the industrialization of the research translated into industries

At the end of the days and after investments of millions and millions of dollars all that can be shown are just tons and tons of reports gathering dusts on the shelves

Where did we go wrong? Why cant we escape this 'blackhole' in fermentation research. Why are our research shallow, lateral and cannot be industrialized?

If we analyse the situation or quagmire we are in which steps did we failed in making the progress?

We shall look for the possible causes of the failure in the following questions?

1 Dont we send or have enough people trained in fermentation research?

In my opinion we have more than enough people sent for their PhDs in the relevant fermentation research in the good or even excellent universities in UK

2 Dont we have enough research infrastructure for fermentation research?

Looking at the various local universities I have observed that the fermentation technology course is popular, relevant and even mandatory for various courses ranging from microbiology to bioprocess engineering. In fact judging from the websites I seem to see at least two or three universities have fully equipped fermentation pilot plant. Most universities offering the courses have a large array of bioreactors or fermentors

3 Dont we have sufficient research fundings for fermentation research?

The government is having its own Intensive Research Priority funding in the tune of millions of dollars every tear to support the programme.

4 Are our fermentation research vertical or lateral research?

Sad to say from what I observed the stress on isolation, characterization and identification of fermentation and looking for strain biodiversity is lateral research. In depth vertical research or completing the fermentation study from Petrl dish right up to the industrialization is lacking

Personally I cannot find fault generally in terms of funding and research for fermentation. The only reason why I feel too little progress are really being made in this field lies with the conservative mentality, poor research ideas, failure to be creative and inability to think outside the box. This sad state of affairs could be seen by the poor quality and quantity of fermentation research papers submitted and accepted by renowned international journals.

(Dont believe me? just check the CVs of the researchers or professors in fermentation technology of the local universities in the internet )









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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

DIVERSITY OF FERMENTED FOODS IS MORE A SUBSTRATE DIVERSTY


As you traveled across the globe you will see almost each nation prides itself of their own unique fermented food heritage. The Malaysians are proud of their stinking but tasty belacan, the Thais with their unique fish sauce and the Chinese with their kicap and the Germans with their outrageous sauerkraut.

In fact you will see in most cases they are referring to the same fermented food but in their own language. The conditions of fermentation and the microorganisms involved are the same. Predominant among the common microorganisms are yeasts, lactic acid bacteria among others

In the alcoholic beverage the diversity of the alcoholic drinks are more attributed to the use of different carbohydrates or cereals for their fermentation. In wine you use grapes, in bear you use wheat and in sake or tuak you use rice or even pulut

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IT REQUIRES 'SKILL' TO SPOIL FERMENTED FOOD



(PICTURE TAKEN FROM WWW.CCC.GOVT.NZ)
While it is generally accepted that food fermentation is food preservation, but in the serious context food fermentation is not truly a method of food preservation. This is in the view when food materials are undergoing fermentation process, it is being acted upon by various types of microorganisms that hydrolyze and degrade the food substrate as their source of their energy.

The preservation aspects of food fermentation lies in the fact that as consequences of fermentation these microorganisms produce fermentation products which are acidic which will retard the growth of other microorganisms.

If this acidification process continue even the fermentative microorganisms which produce the organic acids will ultimately retard the fermentative microorganisms themselves.

In view of the preservative action of the fermentation products in inhibiting spoilage microorganisms from proliferating in the fermented food, why do spoilage of fermented food occur?

Spoilage of fermented food occurs because often the fermentation conditions are not strictly maintained. For example exposure to air or oxygen during the process of fermentation allows other facultative or aerobic microorganisms to thrive.

In pickling such as sauerkraut fermentation where the salt content is high would under aerobic conditions allow fungus to grow on substrate exposed to oxygen. It is important therefore that the salt concentration is maintained and not diluted as by then the lactic acid bacteria will not be to compete effectively against other microbial contaminants

Changes in ph by exposure to oxygen will allow the change in microbial succession to occur

In the case of tempe, the so called food spoilage is not really food spoilage as it does not involve microbial contaminants but merely the fungi sporulating to give it a dark appearence






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INDUSTRIALIZATION OF TRADITIONAL FERMENTATION INDUSTRIES (2)

We will now discuss in detail on how to go about industrializing a hypothetical traditional fermentation industry. We will approach this by asking a few questions

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
1 What are the various types of fermented foods available in the region?
2 Which fermented food has the highest demand or consumption?
3 Is there a projected increase in the demand for the fermented food in the future?
4 Is the profit margin high enough to make the project viable?
5 Can the marketing be extended to larger areas?

FERMENTED FOOD
1 What are the raw materials needed for the fermented food?
2 Is the raw material easily available locally?
3 Is the cost economical and stable?

FERMENTATION PROCESS
1 Is the production a low level fermentation technology?
2 Outline the process flow in the production of the fermented food
3 What are the rate limiting steps or bottlenecks in the production process?
4 Can these rate limiting steps be improved through use of manpower or mechanization?
5 Will the increase in production costs justify increase in profit by increasing volume of production and lowering of cost per unit produced
6 Will scaling up or economy of scale work?
7 Can SOP be introduced to the production process for better consistency and quality control?
8 Can the production process be improved from batch to continuous production?

PRODUCT
1 What is the shelf life of the fermentation products?
2 Can the shelf life be improved by better packaging and refrigerating



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WASTEWATERS FROM FERMENTATION INDUSTRIES


As we have discussed earlier although the traditional roots of fermentation lies in food and beverage fermentations, with modern industrial fermentations it encompasses other products such as organic chemicals, antibiotics and even vaccines. The key point in all these diverse types of fermentations are that they are all organic based and depends on microorganisms to carry out the transformations process. Secondly, these industrial fermentations are carried out intensively on a large scale to produce high volume of products

In all these fermentation industries it is unavoidable that huge amounts of wastewaters are generated within a small area, that is the fermentation plants. The source of these wastewaters are at various points of the fermentation activities right from upstream to downstream activities. Usually included in the fermentation wastewaters are:
1 Raw materials or fermentation stocks
2 End products of fermentation
3 The washing and cleaning components
4 Microbial cells and its products

The type and concentration of the fermentation waste waters of course depends very much on the type of fermentation carried out. But generally the waste waters have very high pollution load in terms of BOD and COD, high solids and very colored.

The additional physical characteristics of wastewater often associated are high temperature and even ph differences

The wastewaters from fermentation industries are usually generated in high volumes and with fluctuations in flow variations as the function of production

All these factors usually complicate the treatment option of the wastewaters

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

INDUSTRIALIZATION OF TRADITIONAL FERMENTATION

Traditional fermentation industries have somehow always been considered as small cottage backyard industries carried out at small scale and fulfilling the needs and demands of the local areas. Sadly. this mindset have been existing undisturbed for decades. What most forget is that the huge mega industrial fermentation industries in fact have its roots and origins from the traditional small scale fermentation industries. In fact we can look at each small traditional fermentation industries as having potential to develop into mega industries if investors dare take the gamble to exploit the traditional industries and transform it ultimately into million dollars industries. And rationally there is no reason why this cannot be achieved.

Maybe it is not feasible or practical when only one individual is thinking of doint it from the point of capital, technical and marketing support. But just imagine when the number of individuals is united in a concerted effort to pool their resources then nothing becomes impossible. After all large mega industries started small...
Wasnt it Ford who discovered the automobile and Wright who started the aviation industries? Even Kentucky fried chicken and McDonald started small??

Its more about the willingness to start and facing the slight risks and gambles.

The advantage of small fermentation industries is that they have diversity ot products not bound by the rigidity and standards of major players which is so engrossed with standards and consistency of products that they failed to be more creative and exploit new tastes....



The few important components of attempting to upgrade or industrialize the traditional fermentation industries are:
1 Improving the hardware of the fermentation by improving the size and quality of the fermentors and downstream vessels and equipments
2 Finding the rate limiting steps in the traditional fermentation process and improving it
3 Increasing the scientific and technological understanding and know how so as to improve the traditional fermentation industries
4 Combining the individuals involved into clusters so bigger fermentation industries can be carried out and pooling of common resources
5 Improving the GMP aspects of the fermentation production
6 Appointing consultants to carry out technical and marketing aspects of the fermentation industries
7 Try to improve the R&D of the process especially with respect to improving the shelf life of products, pacjaging and quality of products

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

OPPORTUNITY FOR 'HANDS ON EXPERIENCE'



(PICTURE TAKEN FROM WWW.DNR.MO.GOV)
I am looking for university or college students to help me in one of my consultation projects. We will be doing water tracing studies on a wastewater treatment plant, somewhere in Selangor.

This is a valuable opportunity for the students to be exposed to the operation of a wastewater treatment plant and experiencing various methodologies of flow measurements, and applied water tracing techniques. Students doing civil and environmental engineering, biotechnology,environmental science, microbiology would get positive benefits out of this exposure

The successful student will be provided with attractive allowance, free food and transport costs.

Preference would be given to hardworking male students from colleges or universities as it will involve fieldworks,

If interested please contact me at my email address as soon as possible:

boulevardgumbo@gmail.com

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Friday, May 9, 2008

IMPORTANCE OF PROCESS VALIDATION IN FERMENTATION INDUSTRIES

Validation is a very important component in any manufacturing industries especially in the fermentation industries involved in the production of health care products and food products. In fact validation is one part of GMP and TQM and help in the HACCP requirements of the industries concerned. By carrying out the validation procedures we automatically ensure the standard, quality and consistency of products manufactured. As for the manufacturers it will ensure that their production are under optimum process control in terms of quality and efficiency and as for the consumers they are assured of receiving quality products that comply all the time.

When we talk about 'validation' in general, it simply means that it is a documentary evidence supporting or confirming that all equipments, processes are carried out
according to the set specifications or SOP. This means that that the equipments and the manufacturing processes are functioning as designed.

In reality, validation is a complex but schematic process that encompasses the whole process of manufacturing from A to Z.The validation studies carried out in the fermentation industries include analytical test, equipment, facility systems such as air, water, steam, process; manufacturing processes, cleaning, sterilization, sterile filling, lyophilization. In fact every step of the manufacturing process such as cleaning of glasswares, sterilization process and maintaining cultures has its own set of SOP to be complied Validation involves various stages of design and execution


In discussing validation procedures for a particular manufacturing or fermentation process we must first bear in mind that a manufacturing process are made up of various steps in the production which involve various components such as equipments,operators, material inputs and what ever. So before a proper process validation is carried out, the following components need to be qualified first:

Design qualification (DQ)
Installation Qualification (IQ)
Operational Qualification (OQ)
Performance Qualification (PQ)
At each of these stage validation activities are carried out on the equipment and facilities

In the design qualification it is important to ask these questions:
1Have all components needed for the process been properly selected?
2Do all the components have adequate capacity to function for the intended purpose?
3 Will all the components selected adequately serve the operations or functions of another piece of EQ or operation?.

In the installation qualification it is important we ask the following:
1 Are all the relevant and proper proper information, instructions or written directives are carried out for all the identification information, location, utility requirements, and any safety features of EQ adequately provided?
2 Do these information provided verify that the item tally with the purchase specifications?

In the case of operational qualifications, the following questions need to be asked: 1 Do you need provide all information that all component of a system or of a piece of EQ operate as specified.
2 Do you have all the listings of SOPs for operation, maintenance and calibration?.
3 Do you define the specification and acceptance criteria Include information on EQ or system calibration, pre-operational activities, routine operations and their acceptance criteria?

For the performance Qualification, it is only carried out after both IQ and OQ have been completed, reviewed and approved. This stage describes the procedures for demonstrating that a system or piece of EQ can consistently perform and meet required specification under routine operation and, where appropriate, under worst case situations. At this stage it will include:
1 description of preliminary procedures required,
2detailed performance tests to be done,
3acceptance criteria and other supporting EQ used during qualification have been validated.

Now we will come to the validation of the process of manufacturing itself. We will define the process of manufacturing as a series of interrelated functions and activities using a variety of specified actions and EQ which is designed to produce a defined result. The process validation studies will involve the following activities or stages:
1 VALIDATING UNDER NORMAL OPERATING CONDITIONS
examine a process under normal operating conditions to prove that the process is in control
2 REVALIDATING STUDIES
which will be carried out if the process undergoes the following changes:
1 Any modification to the process
2 Anyproblems occurring in the existing process
3 If there are changes in the EQ or systems

The process validation procedures must be carried out scientifically so that the study does done should show consistency and reproducibility. These studies and usually involve:
1 Using validated EQ on the fully defined process
2 Studies carried out at least three times under established procedure
3 The process must successfully and consistently meet all acceptance criteria at all steps throughout the procedure. This must be shown to operate at least 3 times consecutively

In carrying out the validation of the process, studies must be carried to show the behaviour of the process is still acceptable under worst case scenario

The validation of the process must cover every step of the production process from A to Z such as cleaning, sanitization, fumigation, depyrogenation, sterilization, sterile filling, fermentation, bulk production, purification, inactivation, filling, capping, sealing and lyophilization

At each of the above steps detailed SOP must be carried out as required. These will normally involve various tests, analyses and experiments
















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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

FERMENTATION FILTERS





(PICTURE TAKEN FROM COLEPARMER.COM)

With the exception of mixed culture and open fermentations, there is the need for filters in most types of fermentations. The need for filtration is even more extreme and demanding in cases of highly aseptic fermentations such as in pharmaceutical fermentations.

The main purpose of these filters is either to sterilize the incoming fluids or the containment of microorganisms from being released to the surrounding environment from the fermentor. In between these functions are the maintenance of aseptic integrity of the fermentor throughout the fermentation process.

There are many types of filters used for different function of the fermentor. The common function is the exclusion of microscopic particles or microorganisms such as bacteria, spores and other solids by being excluded entrance through the pores of the filters. The physical exclusion of microbial contaminants is achieved either through size exclusion of the particles that exceed the pore size of the filters or by the adsorption of the particles on the filtering media through electrostatic interactions between the filter and the particles.

Filters are essential in the maintenance of a successful fermentation process but at the same time it got to be admitted that filters used in the fermentation process are subjected to a lot of physical and chemical stresses such as high heat, pressure and chemicals. It is also in certain cases subjected to biofouling by microorganisms.

The use of filters is subjected to its life span. Intense and extreme exposure to various stress will result in the rapid deterioration of the filter function. In such situations and as filters are expensive it is very important that the life span of the filters must be extended as long as possible. However, in the process of extending the life span of filters it is not worth the cost of fermentation failures due to the malfunctioning filters. Thus filters need to be examined periodically to avoid failed fermentation which could be disastrous especially at the production scale.

In order to prolong the life span and the filtration efficiency of the filters it is common to introduce prefilters before the filters used. These prefilters are really filters but they are more coarser and durable and will help remove significant load of particles to be filtered by the filters after the prefilters

In most filters used in the fermentation process,various types of fluids are pumped through the filters

PROBLEM OF AIR FILTERS
-----------------------
In discussing air filtration in any fermentation system we must see it from the perspective of air inlet and air outlet. The inlet and outlet air have different physical, chemical and microbiological characteristics and particle loads.

The objective of filtration of air in the inlet line is more the towards the prevention of entry of particles, spores and microorganisms that would interfere the fermentation process. Whereas in the case of the outlet air it is more towards the prevention or escape of microorganisms from the internal environment of the fermentor to the surrounding environment. This is more the problem of microbial containment especially in fermentations involved with the cultivation of pathogenic microorganisms

While on a small laboratory scale fermentation the use of millipore type membrane filters is suitable, in large scale fermentations sartridge or even ceramic filters are more applicable.

In membrane filters usually the filter membrane is hydrophobic material to prevent the filter from getting wet and affect the filtration process. However at times, even such filters could be affected by the formation of droplets of water on the membrane surface which interfere in the filtration efficiency.

PROBLEM OF LIQUID FILTERS
--------------------------

Liquid filtration are normally carried out in very sensitive filtration such as pharmaceutical fermentation. Under such conditions the fermentor are often sterilized before the media or nutrient are added . Conventional heat sterilization is not applicable as it could denature the components before the process of fermentation is carried out.

Further in pharmaceutical fermentations the scale of fermentation is small and not as big as in most industrial fermentations

Under such situations the filtration load is drastically reduced by using pure fine grade chemicals as its fermentation media. This will eliminate solids and sources of impurities to be faced by the liquid filters. Additionally the use of various units of prefilters helped in extending the efficiency and life of the filters.



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PUMPS AND FERMENTATION



PICTURE TAKEN FROM WWW.BLUE=WHITE.COM)





The fermentor or the bioreactor has always been referred as the heart of the fermentation process. It refers to the central position and function of the fermentor where all the microbiological and biochemical reactions take place. However, the fermentor is just the vessel to support the growth of the high concentration of microorganisms and its success depends a lot on the input of various components such as nutrients, oxygen and the removal of products such as spent broth and gases among others

The dynamic flux which occur between the fermentor environment and the external environment are crucially maintained by the various pumps that serviced the fermentor . The pumps are the heart of the fermentor itself as much as the fermentor is the heart of the fermentation process

The pumps deliver,removes and maintain the fermentor environment through its control of fluids in and out of the fermentor. The success of the pumps in doing its function depends on other factors such as tubings and pipes in servicing the fermentors.

There are various types of pumps to carry out the different function in the fermentor. But important in the choice of the pumps to be selected are the:

1 The nature of fluid that is being pumped
2 The degree of contact or sterility required of the fluid



THE NATURE OF FLUID BEING PUMPED
-------------------------------
The rheology or viscosity of fluid being pumped is important. If the liquid is too viscous it might require a more powerful pump to pump the fluid. A liquid which contain high amount of solids could be a problem in pumping as if the velocity is too low then it might result in the solids settling down due to gravity and creating problems of pumping

DEGREE OF CONTACT AND ASEPTICITY
--------------------------------
This will be a major problem in aseptic fermentation where sterility demand is very stringent. Only pumps which are not in contact with the fluid or are in high sanitary conditions are permissible

In small scale fermentations, the most ideal mode of pumping will be by using peristaltic pumps. Fluids are moved through the tube by peristalsis action of rollers acting in pulses on the tube. The fluid is never in contact with the pump










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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

TWO STAGE (PHASE) FERMENTATION



PICTURE TAKEN FROM WWW. BIO. IC,AC.UK)

The use of two stage or two phase fermentation usually involves the the use of a two tank system or two fermentors in sequence and physically connected. These two tanks are usually in a series with the process starting in tank A and flowing and continued into tank B.

The two stage or two phase fermentation system is usually applied in a mixed fermentation system involving at least two groups pf microorganisms. The separation into two groups of microorganisms into two tanks are not really exclisive whereby tank A contain a particular species and tank B contain another species. The physical separation of the tanks into two dominant groups of microorganisms are really more physiological than physical. The two tanks still usually contain similar types of microorganisms but the conditions applied differently to each tank resulted in the enrichment of certain groups of microorganisms in each tank

For example, the first tank might be fukky aerobic or have shorter retention time or exposed to rapid sugars. The second tank might be anaeobic or might have a different composion of substrate and even longer retention time

We could view the two stage or two phase fermentation more as a 'plug flow' fermentation system too as the flow is one way! passing through the two tanks

The two stage or two phase fermentation system allows the optimization and finer control of the fermentation process


While admittedly the optimization of a two stage or two phase fermentation system depends on the two reactors providing two separate optimal conditions, the important point is that the flow of the mixed liquor or fermentation broth from one reactor to the other should be a smooth flow. This is made possible by adjusting the hydraulic retention time of the second reactor. Usually the second reactor is larger to accomodate the longer retention time. Of course there are various reactor configurations that can accomodate the flow



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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

ALL ABOUT CIP (CLEANING IN PLACE)




(PICTURE TAKEN FROM WWW.OPTEK.COM) and WWW. TSSTRELLEBORG.COM)

Cleaning and sterilizing are one of the most important activities carried out in the fermentation process. A good cleaning and sterilization ensures not only the removal of residues from previously operated fermentation but also reduces or removed the probability of microbial contamination. If fermentors or its ancillaries equipments and processes are not cleaned, the remaining organic residues not only provide nutrients for the growth of unwanted microorganisms and allow the proliferation of the microbial populations, it also protects the microorganisms from the full effect of sterilizations.

Sometimes the process of cleaning the fermentors and its ancillary equipments are often confused with the sterilization process. In the cleaning process the activity centred on washing the equipments and removal of organic matters or soiled components. Sterilization is more in the killing and the removal of the microorganisms. This explains why CIP is often confused with SIP.

In most fermentation industries both SIP and CIP are carried out concurrently.


There are two kinds of cleaning often carried out in the fermentation industries; COP and CIP. COP refers to cleaning of the fermentors by removing and dismantling the fermentor components before cleaning it. The fermentor components are then reassembled after the cleaning process

CIP is the kind of cleaning carried out in situation where there is no dismantling or reassembling of the fermentor components. Cleaning is carried out with the fermentor component in tact. CIP is only carried out where the scale of the fermentor is too large and complex and the industry does not have the time, expertise to carry the COP

In both CIP and COP the basic principles of cleaning are the same. Both CIP and COP usually follow standard cleaning and sanitizing procedures such preliminary rinsing, draining, washing, rinsing and drying. However in CIP this procedure is a bit more complex as there is no ready access for cleaning and dismantling and require special procedures and methods of executing CIP.

It is strange that when the topic of CIP for fermentors are carried out, two common views are often held:

1 The first view is the picture of a worker scrapping or brushing the inner walls of the fermentor
2 A brief comment of passing hot steam through the pipes leading to and from the fermentor

CIP is more than the above standard views. CIP is a standard procedure or a system which are attached to and form part of the fermentation system.

The first CIP cleaning was rather quite primitive and manual in approach. The CIP involves the use of vessels as the solution tank, portable pumps, and hoses to connect the equipment and piping into circuits for recirculation of flush, wash and rinse solutions.

Temperature in CIP was accomplished by inserting a low-pressure steam hose into the solution tank and the “finger test”, or a thermometer reading.

The early CIP practises is a mixture of CIP and COP. CIP were quite restricted to the few long pipelines such as the receiving line or a supply line to the process plant. All other shorter pipelines, connections to equipment, and fittings and valves were manually cleaned, as in COP

Its only lately that CIP have become independent of COP and are fully automated to improve the efficiency of the process.

Modern CIP and SIP are systems designed for automatic cleaning and disinfecting without major disassembly and assembly work. Additionally, a well designed CIP system using a double seat block and bleed valve technology and process integration will allow cleaning of one part of the plant while other areas continue to function.

Modern CIP system saves money in terms of higher plant utilization and savings in CIP liquid through recycling of cleaning solutions, water reuse and conservation and man-hours.

In any CIP the most important components are the manipulation and control of the three parameters:

1 Time

2 Temperature

3 Concentration

In the application of CIP is also the interplay of hydraulics such as flow velocity and flow rate, number and volume of tanks, number of CIP circuits, type of detergent and sanitizing chemicals among others. Each CIP is custom made for the particular system

The design of a specific automatic CIP requires the integration of the design into the process. Such system usually have:

1 the addition of spray systems, tank cleaners, nozzles, and seals into the cleaning process.

2 advanced wash liquid preparation unit handling all filtering, preheating, mixing, and pumping of water, detergents, and demineralized water.

3 continuous monitoring and control of cleaning parameters, including flow rate, detergent concentration, temperature, and wash time.


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Thursday, April 24, 2008

STEAMING FERMENTORS


The use of hot and pressurized steam to clean and sterilize fermentors is one of the most crucial steps in the fermentation process. Yet how much do we really know about the hot steam and its effects and limitations on the fermentation process?

Steam is the gas phase of water. Steam is produced when water passes its boiling point. Thus the temperature of steam is always very hot. It is possible to increase the temperature of the steam by generating steam under pressure such as those produced during autoclaving. By manipulating the pressure and controlling the temperature of the steam produced it enhances the value of steam as a sterilizing agent. This makes steam as a very useful method or technology in cleaning and sterilizing fermentors.

As a very hot gas phase, steam is most suitable in cleansing and sterilizing various components of the fermentors as well as in CIP and COP operations. Its power to sterilize and clean can even go beyond the fermentors but the plant environment such as other utensils and even floorings and processing machineries

The advantage of using steam is that it has the ability to penetrate the most hidden and inaccessible places

USING STEAM TO STERILIZE

Using steam to sterilize the fermentor depends more on the size of the fermentors

For small size fermentors the normal autoclave and the standard operating sterilization parameters apply. But for larger fermentors at the level of pilot or industrial fermentors there need to be adjustments in the sterilizing parameters

Steam sterilization of pilot and industrial fermentors is a bit more complicated as CIP needs to be applied. The fermentor and feed-system piping must be steam sterilized.

The accepted procedure involves heating the entire system with steam to a minimum of 121°C for 60 minutes or more. In case of very large fermentor installations large industrial fermentation systems often prove more difficult to sterilize. Steam heating to temperatures approaching 150°C for sterilization periods approaching 4 hours are often needed to insure that all hard-to-reach internal areas have been brought to minimum sterilization temperatures.

The efficacy of the operating regimes for steam sterilization has to be individually determined and validated for each type of fermentation

In fermentation technology we are often faced with the choice of two kinds of steam; the saturated or wet steam and the dry steam. The "dry steam" describes a system that produces a high temperature with "low moisture vapor". This vapor contains only 5-6% water and is much less dense than the air we breathe.
 
The trick to get a dry can of steam is to know the volume of your can and the amount of H20 in the can. Assuming the can to be a constant volume and that the H2O cannot escape, you pick the temperature and pressure needed to get "dry" steam
 
Not many using the autoclaves know the difference between the terms psi and psig. Find out….!
 

We can use pressurized hot steam to sterilize the vessels without using autoclaves. However the temperature of the steam would not be as high as in the autoclaving process. There are a number of mobile steamers in the market that can provide in situ hot steam. This method of sterilizing would be ideal in cottage fermentation industries


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Monday, April 21, 2008

IMPROVING THE EFFICIENCY OF TRADITIONAL FERMENTATION INDUSTRIES



(PICTURE TAKEN FROM WWW.LSL.COM.MY)Most of the traditional food fermentation industries could be considered as small household or backyard industries with small capacity production and inefficient in the application of the fermentation technology process and know how. It is not that difficult to improve or upgrade the traditional fermentation industries with little capital input and application of GMP

The characteristics of traditional fermentation industries in Malaysia are:
1 They are small scale or small volume industries
2 There are a diversity of fermentation products produced mre towards the geographical location and the type of food substrate available in the area. Coastal areas may produce fermentation products from cincaluk, belacan, budu. Other more inland areas might be producing tempe, tapai and kicap fermentation
3 Level of technology utilized is very low and do not really changed with time and regarded as passive fermentation. Use of automation and mechanization is low
4 GMP is rarely applied. Lack of quality control and sanitary standards
5 Very low level of research or scientific input
6 Government industries supposed to support and upgrade these small and scattered industries are quite passive and do not really enter the playground to participate
7 Shelf life for some of the fermentation products are really short in case of tempe and tapai
8 Marketting of the traditional fermentation products considered poor
9 These industries do not really have professional consultants in fermentation who can advise them how to improve and standardize the quality of fermentations
10 Most of the traditional fermentations are Batch or fed batch fermentations
11 Operators of the traditional fermentation have poor or lack of understanding of the science of fermentation that be applied to their process
12 The fermentation industry is a mix of Solid substrate and liquid fermentation

In this blog we will only try to discuss one or two aspects of the traditional fermentation industries

1 Increasing the volume of fermentation production
2 Improving the efficiency of the traditional fermentation industries with simple cheaper and alternative modes of fermentation

INCREASING THE VOLUME OF FERMENTATION
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One of the most common characteristics of traditional fermentation here is that the fermentation process are often carried out in a large number of small fermentation vats ( or earthen jars). This limiting step can be avoided by carrying the fermentation process in a large fermentation vessel. The most ideal container for the fermentation now would be adapting or modifying the new stainless steel water tanks. These tanks are easily available from hardwate shops. These tanks are sanitary and are easily cleaned and sterilize

Adding a simple motor to the top of the fermentor or stainless steel water tank will help improve the mixings and the fermentation process

INCREASING THE EFFICIENCY OF THE FERMENTATION PROCESS
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Improvement of the traditional fermentation process has always been the rate limiting steps in the fermentation process. To improve the fermentation process must be carried out in terms of time, quality and volume of the fermentation process.

When we talk about shortening the fermentation time by optimizing the various physical, chemical and microbiological as well as the engineering aspects of the fermentor operation. This initially requires some laboratory scale fermentation studies to optimize the various parameters

The product of the fermentation should be of the highest quality and consistency. Standard operating procedures and good GMP or the basics of GMP should be adapted or modified for use at the level of cottage industries fermentation. The HAACP procedures should also be adapted in its essence to be applied at the small scale fermentation

The main problem of traditional fermentation industries in this country it has always been so successful in maintaining the traditional way of thinking and making fermentations. There is lack of tendency to understand the process, to increase the input of science and technology to the fermentation production system. Days of fermenting in plastic pails and porcelain vats are numbered.......

Imn my observations the fermentation entrepreneurs still practise the art of fermentation handed down from the fathers and refusing to optimise or even experiment to improve their fermentation process. There is poor monitoring of the fermentation process in terms of temperature, ph , sugar in the traditional fermentation industries. This has led to inconsistency in the fermentation products produced. A little investment in these instruments would increase the efficiency of their fermentation





















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Saturday, April 19, 2008

IMPORTANCE OF FERMENTATION PILOT PLANT


Say, we have a fermentation process which we would like to commercialize. In order to commercialize it at the level of industrial manufacturing we have to build an industrial scale fermentation plant so that we can manufacture enough volume to be economically viable.

To build a large industrial scale manufacturing plant is not without risks. It involves huge capital investments in terms of millions of dollars. It would be risky to build such huge fermentation plants only to find out later that it could not operate efficiently as expected.

True! We do have some small laboratory scale fermentation studies to guide us. But it would still be risky. As fermentation behaviour at small laboratory scale often differ compared to those that occur in the huge industrial vats.

So we have a choice. Take a heavy risk and build the huge industrial fermentation plants based on data obtained from laboratory studies and PRAY to God that nothing disastrous would occur. Alternatively we could reduce the risks of building the huge industrial scale fermentation plants by doing extra studies on scaling up by using pilot scale fermentation plants. At least the data obtained would provide us further confidence to invest or abort the project.

WHAT IS A FERMENTATION PILOT PLANT?

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A fermentation pilot plant is a small fermentation processing system which is operated to generate information about the behavior of the fermentation system for use in design of larger industrial facilities

In fact fermentation pilot plant ‘mimic’ the industrial scale fermentation process by carrying out the industrial process on a smaller scale. Thus mimicking the industrial process and size is the main characteristics of pilot plant. However, the only difference pilot plant fermentation is still considered a research stage and not the final industrial production.

In trying to mimic the industrial scale fermentation the pilot plant show similar activities and equipments at mid stream and downstream facilities

FERMENTATION PILOT PLANT STUDIES

We carry out fermentation plant studies based on ‘uncertainties’ of what will the industrial scale fermentation plant will be like in reality.

How will the processes be similar or different from the smaller lab scale studies and how much changes will need to be executed at the various processes.

There are few crucial studies which will only be answered by carrying it out on the pilot plant such as:

1 Determining the various operational parameters for optimized oxygen supply to the fermentation process.

2 Selection of optimum operative modes of the fermentor

3 Determining the changes in rheological properties and its effect on the fermentation process.

4 Modeling and formulation of process controls

5 Sensors and controls

WHEN PILOT PLANT STUDIES ARE NOT NEEDED

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If a system is well defined and the engineering parameters are known, pilot plants are not used. For instance, a business that wants to expand production capacity by building a new plant that does the same thing as an existing plant may choose to not use a pilot plant.

ADVANTAGES OF USING FERMENTATION PILOT PLANT

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Adding the pilot plant studies would probably add up further costs but we would decrease the risks of huge financial disaster many times over if we do not carry out further pilot plant studies. Fermentation pilot plants are cheaper to build compared to building industrial scale plants. So even if we failed in the project it does not involve much capital loss. Using fermentation pilot plants we can tweak the design and work out any problems that arise before the design of the large industrial fermentors. Pilot fermentation plants will be able to provide additional useful data that is anticipated at the level of industrial scale such as reactions, corrosiveness and material properties among others

At the end of pilot plant studies, the pilot plant can still be used as additional manufacturing fermentors or for carrying out other tests and operating conditions

RENT OR BUILD YOUR PILOT PLANT?

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Many industries developing a product might find it too costly and uneconomically viable financially to set up pilot plant fermentation for one or two products. So they would rather invest in contractual work being carried out by commercial pilot plant facilities. They would get the services of experts, advance equipments and fermentors for a minimum investment.

Once this choice has been decided it would make more sense economically to hire or rent such pilot plant facilities. Pilot plants are very expensive to invest as it not only include a number of various sizes fermentors but also expensive down stream processing equipments and sophisticated analytical facilities

There are however advantages if we build our own pilot fermentation plants even though it is costly




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Friday, April 18, 2008

SADDAM HUSSEIN AND HIS FERMENTATION TECHNOLOGY


Now Saddam Hussein is gone. Gone are also his threats of unleashing the powers of pathogenic microorganisms which the West previously ' believed' and tried so hard to ' convince' the world. It even went as far as the US state secretary providing 'proofs' of Iraqi capabilities in cultivating large volumes of the pathogenic microbes with a 'demonstration' of a capsule to indicate the potency of a disaster if such volumes of anthrax are released.


One of the 'solid proofs' provided by their secret agency is the mobile unit for cultivating the microbes as shown.

What a laugh it provided me! While in the West such as Britain's famous Porton Down laboratory and the advanced sophisticated laboratories in US have a more complex structure, function and operations to cultivate it, Saddam Hussein's bioreactor is far worst than those carried out in the era of the two world wars

Let us look in depth the problem of producing high volumes of pathogenic microorganisms using fermentation technology



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HOW FERMENTATION TECHNOLOGY HELP WIN THE WORLD WARS




Type your summary here.

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FERMENTATION MYTHS & TABOOS- ARE WE STILL IN DARK AGES???


We are in the twenty first century where biotechnology run supreme and we have big or mega fermentation industries. Yet despite the scientific understanding and the fermentation technology at our disposal, a significant number of us still believes in the taboos and myths associated with the fermentation process. Breaking or going against the taboo or making the 'spirits' angry will not lead to a successful fermentation process.

In this blog we will discuss some of the common taboos and the rationality why some of the taboos really got a rational scientific explanation behind it

One of the most popular beliefs in this country is in tapai making. It is believed that:
1 Women who are in their menstruation should not prepare the fermented food
2 The fermentation food preparers must not be in an angry mood

There have been many cases when this taboo is broken it will result in the poor fermentation of the tapai.

If one rationalize the situation, there might be some truth of these superstitions or taboo from a scientific angle

When women are in menstruation, they are undergoing strong hormonal changes which affect their metabolism and state of health. It is most possible that these ladies may have changes in their body ph or acidity which allows either different contaminants to proliferate on their normal human flora. This additional flora will be 'accidentally' introduced into the fermenting process.

It is also possible that during the mixing of the substrate by the ladies the ph of the substate will be changed when in contact with the ladies acidity thus allowing other type of yeasts to proliferate instead of the usual yeasts

As regard to the fact that ladies who are angry will make lousy tapai is because in their anger they lost the mood to be extra careful in preparing the tapai and the fermentation improperly carried out allowing ease of entry for the contaminants














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Thursday, April 17, 2008

TRANSLATION OF FERMENTATION RESEARCH INTO INDUSTRIAL FERMENTATION---- PROBLEMS??

I remembered during my teaching days at the university that the lecturer in microbial genetics used to claim that it is possible to create a microbial super strain that is genetically designed to produce high concentration of fermentation products.

In a way this is true or can be even proven in the laboratory at small conical flask level and where the growth conditions are closely monitored and control. However in translating the research into industrial scale or using large fermentors is another issue. It is generally not possible to retain the efficiency of the super strains achieved at the small scale laboratory in large fermentors.

The problem is more than just engineering scale up procedures but involve on the stability of the selected strain. The conditions or the environment of large fermentors are very different from those in the laboratory. Let us get one correct point of view here.

Even though we develop the super strain cultures and use that as inocula of the large fermentors, the culture will have to reproduce into a large population and at the same time adapt to the new internal environment of the the fermentors. As the microorganisms reproduce and build up into a large population in the fermentor it will be busy genetically mutating itself with progenies which are adapted to the new environment. Over the long time period the original cultures have probably 'mutated' into new strains far different from the original strain studied in the laboratory. It might no longer be able to produce the same composition and quality of the desired fermentation products





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DIVERSITY OF FERMENTATION PRODUCTS



PICTURE TAKEN FROM WWW/BACT.WISC.EDU
One of the hallmarks of fermentation industries is the rich diversity of fermentation products produced. The rich variety of fermented foods and drinks are often the pride of many countries and civilizations throughout history of mankind. If the Japanese are proud of their sake, and the Indonesians with their tempeh and the Thais with their fish sauce or Malaysians with their pungent belacan, the British are proud of their beers and the Irish with their stouts.



The rich diversity of fermentation products are attributed to two main factors:
1 Rich diversity of fermenting microorganisms and their varied metabolism
2 Rich diversity of substrates used in the various fermentation process

We will discuss in detail the two factors.




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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

MICROBIAL STARTER CULTURES IN FERMENTATION


The success of many food and beverage based fermentation industries depends heavily on the availability of the microorganisms which drive the fermentation process. The type or types of microorganisms used, the quality and volume of inocula used in the fermentation process is crucial in the fermentation industries. In reality, most of the food or beverage based fermentation industries use pure or mix cultures for their fermentation depending on the type of fermentation carried out. Some fermentation requires the use of mono cultures while there are food or beverage fermentations that require the contribution of a number of species of microorganisms for the fermentation to be successful.

The microorganisms used in the various food and beverage fermentations were in fact historically isolated from the ' natural contaminants' which occur on the decomposing or naturally fermented foods!

The use of starter cultures is not new. In traditional fermentations traditional starter cultures have always been used in the fermentation though many do not realize it. Some of these starter cultures used are obtained from:

1 Remnants or residuals of past fermented food and beverage
2 Original flora that existed naturally on wrappings used in the fermentation such as banana leaves
3 Inocula that occur naturally in the substrate of the fermentation such as grapes used in wine making
4 Traditionally made 'kojis' used in many soy sauce or tuak fermentation

It is only now in the modern, sanitary, stainless steel fermentors of modern fermentation industries are ' starter cultures' used to start the desired fermentation process. Starter cultures are specially isolated and selected strains of microorganisms used in the fermentation which are massively cultivated under strict and scientific control to give the best and optimized fermentation which are not often seen in traditional food fermentations

Before the first cultures entered the market,traditional fermented food producers tended to rely on their own cultures. However, inadequately characterised cultures and inadequately defined compositions generally variability in the quality of the fermented products which is regarded not satisfactory in the market.

The development of such cultures requires the expertise and experience of specialists microbiologists, biochemists and food technologists as not all combinations are suitable for all products. The use of different strains in the same microbial starters must not result negative influence on each other. Usually in any microbial starters it is not wise mix more than four different species in a culture,”



The advantages of using industrially prepared starter cultures for food and beverage fermentation are:
1 Use only the microorganisms responsible for the fermentation
2 No other microbial contaminants that can cause diversion from the optimal fermentation
3 Can use the best strains specifically designed for the particular fermentation
4 Use of large inocula of starter cultures will result in better and faster fermentation
5 Quality and stability of the fermentation will be maintained
6 Taste, texture, colour stability and shelf life are mainly determined by microorganisms involved in the maturation, i.e. fermentation, of the product.



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Monday, April 14, 2008

OH! THOSE WONDERFUL LACTIC ACID BACTERIA!


I have often wondered what our life would be without the exotic lactic acid bacteria? Would we still have our fermented foods such as soy sauce, yogurt, pickled cabbage and fermented fish sauce? Our life must be quite bland without these bacteria, with
nothing in our food and drinks to tingle our taste buds. Thanks to the lactic acid bacteria for giving us so much benefits right from providing tastier foods, preserving our foods and even increasing the nutritional values of the food. I don't think there is no human civilization on earth not humbled by these simple lactic acid bacteria


The Lactic acid bacteria refers to a group of different types of bacteria which show the common characteristic of being able to produce lactic acid from their carbohydrate or sugar metabolism. These bacteria are Gram positive. The types of bacteria forming the Lactic acid bacteria includes Streptococcus spp., Lactobacillus spp.Lactococcus spp,Leuconostoc spp.)

These lactic acid bacteria are heterotrophic and generally have complex nutritional requirements because they lack many biosynthetic capabilities. Most lactic acid bacteria have multiple requirements for amino acids and vitamins. This explains why they are easily found in habitats rich in nutrients

Lactic acid bacteria are used in the food industry due to:

1)Their growth lowers both the carbohydrate content of the foods that they ferment,

2)the pH due to lactic acid production is one of the most desirable side-effects of their growth. Their low ph to as low as 4.0 inhibit the growth of most other microorganisms including the most common human pathogens. This will allow the foods to have prolonged shelf life.
3)The acidity also changes the texture and improve the flavour of the foods.

The lowering of the ph also will ultimately control the growth and fermentation process of the lactic acid bacteria.


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FERMENTATION IN YOUR KITCHEN



THE PICTURE IS TAKEN FROM SPARKLETTE.NET


The kitchen or the 'dapur' is one of the best place to learn about fermentation and making fermented foods.The best thing about doing fermentation in the kitchen is that you don't need to have a PhD in fermentation, neither do you need sophisticated laboratory fermentors. Everything is there just around you in the kitchen.

You need not order expensive cultures from Culture Collection; you can get those cultures easily from your surroundings or even from the common corner shops.

Kitchen fermentation boils down to 'GREAT FUN!' for all and might even make you more interested in the fermentation process later

In this blog we will discuss the various kitchen utensils which are commonly found in the average kitchen and how to use them in preparing fermented foods. We will also discuss the various physical, chemical and microbiological process that can be handled by the 'kitchen laboratory fermentation'


In carrying out home fermentation in the kitchen, we are often faced with the limitation of fermentation resources that are often found in laboratories or industries. That does not mean that we cannot carry out fermentations succesfully in the kitchen. To be honest most fermentations started in the homes or cottage industries before they turn into multi million industries.

Before we start discussing further on this topic it must be stressed here that in most home fermentations the conditions are:
1 Not really sterile or aseptic environment
2 Both solid substrate and liquid fermentations are often carried out
3 Most of the fermentations are natural or mixed culture fermentations
4 The fermentation substrate are common food materials commonly used by the family
5 The common utensils and ingredients are often used for various other cooking
purposes
6 The fermentation recipes are traditional and hand me downs
7 Most involved in the fermentation are not trained in the fermentation techniques
and microbiology of the process
8 Home fermentation is still considered more an art and craft rather than science.
Taboos are still aplenty in the 'do's and don't s' of successful fermentation

There are many kitchen utensils or tools which can be exploited to carry out the fermentations.

KITCHEN FERMENTORS
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There are many common kitchen utensils which can be used to carry out or hold the fermentation vessels such as bottles, kilner jars, earthen wares such as vases. The best bet is kilner jars as these jars are equipped with air tight lids to carry out fermentation

KITCHEN STERILIZERS
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In this modern times it is very easy to sterilize or kill the microorganisms. There are the modern microwaves to the ancient and tested steamers. Electric rice cookers are easily adapted to become steamers for sterilizations

KITCHEN INOCULA
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The inocula can be obtained by natural inoculation or stater kits such as yeasts and koji easily obtained from supermarkets

KITCHEN INCUBATORS
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There are simple ovens which are easily temperature controlled for making bread dough and home made yogurt

KITCHEN MIXERS
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We have all sorts of electrical mixers and blenders in the market for the purpose


MEASURING UTENSILS
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We have simple weighing machines and balances easily available. Good thermometer and probes are easily obtained too. Volumes of liquids can be easily measured by various calibrated or measured vessels

REFRIGERATORS
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For cooler fermentation or slow down fermentations are available

WHAT IS IMPORTANT IN KITCHEN FERMENTATION
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The success and failures of kitchen fermentations are often dictated by the techniques used by the operators/ It is most important in most kitchen fermentations the operators and utensils and even the substrate materials be cleaned to minimize the introduction of unwanted microorganisms. Certain procedures that might introduce microbial contaminants should be examined








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Saturday, April 12, 2008

PROPOSED RM100 MILLION ANAEROBIC DIGESTION OF PIG WASTES PROJECT





News is in the air now that the Selangor State Government is proposing a centralized pig rearing industry somewhere in Sepang and that there will be a centralized pig wastewater treatment estimated to cost about RM100 million dollars. There must be excitements among contractors and vendors trying to secure the project! After 100 million 0.1 billion worth of money. Its a lot of money and the cost of building such mega anaerobic digestors would probably look easy on paper than in reality. It is very easy to build very large anaerobic digesters but it would not be easy to operate and maintain the process efficiently as the anaerobic digestion process is known for its sensitivity, process fluctuations and lack of stability. I wonder if the marketting people promises the moon in order to get the contract or will the State government will end up with a white elephant project? And the people surrounding the rearing site will still face air and water pollution from the pig generation activities?


Rearing pigs is a dirty business! Everybody knows that pigs generate a lot of wastes mainly through their faeces and urine. It is further compounded by the volume of wasted feed that end up in the wastewaters, Pig slurry is often characterised by very high BOD, COD, Solids and high ammonia and phosphates. It is the Armageddon of wastewater treatment

I feel concerned over the wastewater project being offered to the successful companies just based on a few visits by state representatives who probably knows next to nothing about wastewater treatment of pig slurry and bowled over by the platinum services given throughout their stay and site visits to these holiday spots. It makes me wonder how much they really see or understand the process. Secondly, the data or slide shows being generated to show to the invited guests from from our countries are perhaps too idealistic and does not reflect the reality.

I do hope our state counselors who endorse this project will learn from examples of failed projects almost similar nature.
My suggestion to the state government is that:

1 They must select their own experts who understand and foresee the problems of such ventures and be accountable for failure if any
2 The company being awarded the contract must provide real proof or carry out feasibility studies including scale ups to show that the proposed process is working in reality and not just on paper
3 Such studies should use our own pig wastes and under real conditions

Do not award the tender if these conditions are not fulfilled as it can be a source of embarrassment in the next general elections
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Thursday, April 10, 2008

YOGURT FERMENTATION



(The picture is taken from iati.blogsome.com)
If you go to a modern supermarket or a hypermarket, you are bound to see stacks and stacks of yogurt cream and drinks in the dairy section. Yogurt is now a very popular and nutritious food drink which most of the health conscious population will vow to its nutritional goodness and even to anti cancer properties.

For the general information, yogurt is not a new food product. It is a fermented milk derived from cows and goats and have a long history stretching hundreds or thousands of years ago.

The remarkable thing is that yogurt was not that well or popularly known in Malaysia. This is probably attributed to its sour taste, boring whitish curd appearance and are taken only by very few people. Nowadays with the advent of powerful marketing, food technology and re branding and repackaging yogurt is becoming very popular indeed.

Now we have yogurt in all sorts of beautiful containers and in various fruity and sweet flavours. The old yogurt now is spiced up with all kinds of goodies making it so appealing to all. Even children love yogurt now!!

In this blog we will be discussing in detail about yogurt fermentation and how it is made or manufactured





Yogurt is actually a fermented milk product. The milk are fermented using bacteria such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus. In some yogurt production it might involved more than one type of bacteria such as Streptococcus thermophilus.

The Lactobacillus bacteria are fermentative bacteria which convert sugar into lactic acids. They can tolerate the presence of oxygen

The milk sugar or lactose is fermented by these bacteria to lactic acid which causes the characteristic curd to form. The acid also restricts the growth of food poisoning bacteria.

During the yogurt fermentation some flavours are produced, which give yogurt its characteristic acetaldehyde flavour.


Yogurt is a fermented food derived from the fermentation of milk. A commercially produced yogurt is made up of milk, sugars, stabilizers, fruits and flavors, and a bacterial culture Lactobacillus bulgaricus.

The fermentation of yogurt is approximately about 4 hours. A completely fermented yogurt has about ph 4.4 value of acid range

CONTROLLING YOGURT FERMENTATION
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The most important component in controlling the quality of yogurt fermentation is temperature. Temperature affects the yogurt fermentation by:
1 Controlling the growth rate of the microorganisms
If the temperature is too low, the culture grows too slowly to adequately acidify milk and to achieve a good texture. The commercial starter is a mixed culture of thermophilus and L. bulgaricus.
If the temperature is too high it might end up killing the cultures

Temperature will affect the taste of the yogurt produced a the formation and secretion of metabolites which contribute to the overall taste are dependent on the growth rate.

The temperature range of proper yogurt fermentation is quite small, i.e. from 42 ºC to 44 ºC.
Higher temperature tends to give a sweeter yogurt as the rate of metabolism is higher. It will also makes the yogurt set faster.

It is very important that once the desired acidity is reached the fermentation is halted by low temperature. This cooling step is of most importance in the industrial production of yogurt, if not the taste of yogurt will be affected





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