Industrial fermentation can generate significant quantities of foam due to the generation of carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Many industries turn to antifoam and defoaming products to prevent or combat unwanted foam which may impede production. 

At Applied Material Solutions (AMS), we manufacture safe and effective defoamers for fermentation, including food-grade and kosher products. Keep reading to learn more about how fermentation processes use antifoams and defoamers, as well as the different types of defoaming products available.

Fermentation Antifoam and Defoamers by Industry beer

Numerous industries, such as pharmaceutical manufacturing, commercial yeast, and alcoholic beverage production, rely on foam control solutions during their fermentation processes. At AMS, we work closely with multiple industries, some examples of which include:

Food Processing and Agribusiness 

The food industry requires antifoam and defoaming tools to control foam in a myriad of fermentation processes. Popular examples include amino acid production, enzymes, ethanol, and yeast. These products can help control foam for a more consistent product from batch to batch. They reduce or entirely eliminate the foam that would otherwise slow production or generate waste. 

Foam accumulates when creating or agitating organic compounds during fermentation. Defoamers control foam formation caused by metabolic and chemical reactions, and when compounds are being mixed or pressurized. 

Fuel Ethanol

Wet milling operations mix solids into a liquid through attrition, crushing, shearing, and other mechanical forces. These operations can churn these organic compounds once a slurry is made and generate foam. 

Wet milling is used to process grain during ethanol production. The grain is introduced to a slurry and the resulting mixture is then steeped, ground, and separated. Foam hinders the ability to separate the grain for processing. It can also interfere with distillation and fermentation further along in the process. By incorporating antifoams into the wet milling operations, ethanol producers can mitigate this variable and increase processing speeds.

Defoamers allow manufacturers to more easily split grains into proteins for animal feed, as well as starches that can be fermented into ethanol products. While dry-milling makes up the majority of ethanol production in the United States, defoamers make wet milling a viable alternative. Suppliers can tailor antifoams to the process, plants and/or grains involved. Adding antifoam agents to ethanol production allows for:

  • Fewer total chemical demands and costs
  • A consistent product across batches
  • Better overall production performance

At Applied Material Solutions, our team carefully designs defoamers and antifoams for different plant needs and ingredients to ensure they won’t damage cell viability. AMS also produces a wide range of food-grade antifoam and defoaming agents.

Considerations For Choosing a Fermentation Defoamer

When selecting a defoamer for your fermentation application, there are numerous factors to consider. Some of these include:

  • Regulatory considerations. When selecting a defoamer, manufacturers must often ensure that they choose a solution that is safe for animal feed and direct food contact to comply with regulations from bodies such as the FDA and USDA. Defoamers also must comply with any relevant environmental regulations from the EPA and other government agencies.  
  • Safety. The health and viability of your microorganisms is paramount, so it’s important to select a defoamer that won’t harm the specific fungi and bacteria used in your operation. Choosing a non-toxic defoamer also helps to ensure yields and profitability won’t be negatively impacted. 
  • Autoclaving tolerance. During the autoclaving process used to sterilize fermentation additives, antifoams may undergo phase separation or become destabilized. This can lead to inconsistent defoaming performance. Select a stable and efficacious antifoam that will minimize the likelihood of this happening.
  • Membrane compatibility. Using the appropriate defoamer within any separation technology is essential to avoid fouling the membrane, which can be costly and have an impact on product yield. AMS will assist you with a defoamer recommendation that is least likely to foul your membrane.

Fermentation Defoamers From Applied Material Solutions

Many industries rely on fermentation processes as part of their manufacturing process. Unwanted foam produced during fermentation can slow production rates or ruin products if left unchecked. Manufacturers can control those fermentation processes with antifoams and defoamers. For assistance in identifying the right antifoam or defoamer for your fermentation process, please contact us today.


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