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Industrial Fermentation as Energy Conversion

Industrial fermentation is the way of making products useful to people by the use of the microorganism’s fermentation. Fermented products can be generated in food and other industry sectors. One of the most common examples of employing fermentation in the industry is producing alcoholic drinks and dairy products. This type of energy conversion refers to anaerobic. In comparison with aerobic energy conversion, it is less productive, though it is still highly useful to particular microorganisms.

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The term “fermentation” is commonly applied to those processes that use organic molecules from regenerating NADH into NAD+ (Open Stax College, 2013). This way of energy conversion refers to anaerobic and is widely employed for producing foods and beverages.

One of the most typical industry fields that employ fermentation is the production of dairy products. Thus, for example, milk, which contains a large scope of vitamins and minerals, can be used for producing other products with the help of the fermentation process. The point is that milk contains a lot of disaccharide lactose or the so-called “milk sugar.” This product undergoes natural souring that happens because the fermentation of lactose produces lactic that provokes the souring. The relevant accumulation decreases milk’s pH and makes the casein coagulate and curdle. There are two outputs of this curdling: curds and whey. The former is a large clump of casein and proteins. The latter is the yellow liquid that remains after casein’s curdling. Therefore, the bacteria receive essential nutrients from the milk, the latter curdles, and people use this output for making other dairy products, such as cheese, butter, sour cream, etc.

The principle difference between fermentation and aerobic respiration is that the final electron acceptor in the second case is represented by an oxygen molecule. In other words, aerobic respiration produces ATP using the energy carried by NADH to the electron transport chain. In the meantime, in the case of fermentation, the final electron acceptor is an organic module (Open Stax College, 2013). Both processes have their advantages and disadvantages.

First of all, even though both processes are aimed at producing energy, aerobic respiration generates more ATP molecules than anaerobic fermentation. It is assumed that glucose is capable of generating dozens of ATP molecules in the course of aerobic respiration and only a couple of ATP molecules during fermentation (Open Stax College, 2013).

The by-products of the two methods are, likewise, different. Thus, the by-product of aerobic respiration is water and carbon dioxide while fermentation leads to the production of lactic acid.

One of the key advantages of the fermentation process resides in the fact that gas is produced in the course of this process. Its production is commonly used in the quality of a fermentation indicator of particular carbohydrates. Therefore, different microorganisms use fermentation to assure a consistent NAD+ supply for the last step in the energy cycle. Without fermentation, that step could not be completed and would be no ATP generated (Open Stax College, 2013).

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Therefore, the benefits of a certain way of energy conversion depend on the character of a particular microorganism. Thus, some organisms can successfully use both the methods – depending on the quantity of oxygen available they can easily shift from aerobic respiration to fermentation. In the meantime, there are particular prokaryotes, like, for example, Clostridia bacteria, that can use fermentation only. As soon as these microorganisms live and grow without oxygen, the latter serves to be poison to them.

Reference List

Open Stax College. (2013). Concepts of Biology. Houston, Texas: Rice University.

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