Fermentation Processes

Amino acid fermentation may be defined in two ways. One is a definition in the narrow sense and refers to direct accumulation of amino acids in a medium containing a sugar, ammonia, and other nutrients, and the other is a broad definition that covers the fermentation process involving the addition of specific precursors and amino acid production by reaction using enzymatic functions of microorganisms. Here, mainly direct fermentation of the former type is discussed.

Fermentation processes generally have a number of advantages and benefits that accrue to the user of the process. On the other hand, they also have drawbacks. Both are summarized as follows:


• Mild conditions are used both in fermentation and in product recovery; hence, little product degradation takes place.

• Fermentation requires relatively less complex operation.

• Once the plant is built and operation has begun, there are relatively low maintenance costs.

• Only L-form amino acids are obtained.


• Operations provide low product concentrations compared with chemical synthesis processes and require large volumes of water, large fermenter capacity, and comparatively high capital investment.

• The requirements for strict sterility add to capital costs and operation costs.

• Large amounts of energy for oxygen transfer and mixing are required.

• Product recovery may be complex, difficult, and expensive.

• The process time necessary to reach maximum concentrations of the desired product is usually comparatively long.

The aforementioned narrow-sense definition of direct fermentation of amino acids includes three types of fermentation: batch-type, fed-batch-type, and continuous.

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