Bioreactors in our laboratory. Yeast is used on a regular basis

Bioreactors in our laboratory. Yeast is used on a regular basis

Naturally, our fermentation experts are using yeast in their research on a regular basis. It is one of the most important groups of microorganisms in food industry and alcohol production. The useful physiological properties of yeast have led to their use in the field of biotechnology. Thus, our customers are exploiting our knowledge and facilities for biobased development of new products and processes.

Yeast in industrial processes

Fermentation of sugars by yeast is the oldest and largest application of this technology. Many types of yeasts are used for making many foods: in bread production, in beer fermentation, in wine fermentation and for xylitol production. Yeasts include some of the most widely used model organisms for genetics and cell biology.

Developments for ethanol production

Baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is used to produce much of the world’s biofuel through the fermentation of sugars and starches into ethanol. But at high concentrations, ethanol is toxic to yeast, as is the heat the microbes produce throughout fermentation. Researchers have discovered cellular mechanisms that can substantially improve yeast’s survival in the presence of heat and alcohol. These new insights could pave the way for genetically engineering more hardy strains for biofuel production.

Finding a way to make yeast better able to withstand heat would make ethanol production cheaper. With current industrial yeast strains, ethanol producers have to cool the yeast fermentation to 30 degrees Celsius. While this may be an optimal temperature for the yeast, it isn’t for the enzymes that producers use. The enzymes needed to break down the sugars and starches work better around 40 Celsius, and the cooling process adds to the cost of production.