Taking Fermentation to a New Level
by Holly Jessen (Ethanol Producer Magazine) Two companies develop new technologies aimed at revolutionizing fermentation
Understood since man first made beer, fermentation is an age-old process that has been developed to the point where it’s nearly impossible to improve on the efficiency of the process. “It’s maxed out,” says Garth Likes, CEO and chairman of Syngar Technologies Inc. That’s why many biofuels companies are focusing elsewhere—such as feedstock development, more easily digested cellulose, pretreatment processes or gasification, to name a few. Syngar, however, is tackling the basic building block of fermentation itself.
…A technology in the precommercial phase by the Edmonton, Alberta, company has the potential to increase biofuel fermentation yields by 33 to 60 percent. The Pulsed Low Ultra Sound Wave, a patent pending technology trademarked as PLUSWave, utilizes ultrasound waves. Applied at specific frequencies and power levels at timed intervals, it stimulates organism growth through cell division and protein synthesis. “It’s sort of like, one plus one equals three,” Likes says. “We are increasing the growth curve of the organism so that it eats faster, it chews faster, it converts faster.”
…Even as novel technologies such as the PlusWave are being developed, other companies continue to build on existing antibacterial and yeast products. Ferm Solutions Inc. has an arsenal of such products, and is in the research and development phase on multiple others. “We’re very focused on reducing costs and at the same time increasing performance through optimization and improved products and processes,” says Shane Baker, president and CEO. “We hope to bring several of those to commercialization by this year.”
…The company has a history of working with the grain-based ethanol industry with its FermGuard and FermPro products. In the advanced biofuels arena, Ferm Solutions has helped clients develop new methods for producing ethanol from everything from sweet sorghum, potatoes, waste streams from candy manufacturing and expired beverages, to name a few. Although its core competency remains serving the ethanol industry, research has identified fermentation applications for the food industry and bacterial control methods for the medical field. “It is possible that this could not only expand into second-generation biofuel production, but also into other industries as well,” Heist says, adding that diversification has the potential to make the company stronger.
New nonantibiotic bacterial control products are in the later stages of research and development at Ferm Solutions. Using natural products, such as extracts from plants, fungi, insects and other living organisms, the team is mining for chemicals that could be used to control bacterial contamination at ethanol plants, Heist says. READ MORE