The beneﬁcial microbes that convert milk into yogurt and act in our guts to promote digestive health cause big problems in ethanol fermentation tanks. These lactic acid bacteria (LAB) proliferate in ethanol feedstock and inhibit growth of ethanol-producing yeast — which slows down fermentation, reduces biofuel yield by as much as 20% per pound of input material, and results in production shutdowns due to contamination. The most common control measures, chemical antimicrobials such as antibiotics, do not eliminate LAB. Additionally, the potential for antibiotic residue limits the marketability of dried distillers grains, a byproduct of the fermentation process used as animal feed. Ecolyse Inc., based in College Station, TX, is working to address this issue by developing products to treat bacterial contamination.
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