Researchers in Brazil have successfully used extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields to significantly boost the amount of ethanol produced through the fermentation of sugar. Their study is scheduled for the 5 October issue of Biotechnology Progress, a bi-monthly journal published by the American Chemical Society.
Victor Perez of the State University of Campinas, Brazil, and his colleagues showed that yeast-based fermentation of sugar cane in the presence of ELF magnetic fields boosted ethanol production by 17%. The scientists also showed that ethanol production was faster, taking two hours less than standard fermentation methods.
The results presented in this report suggest that an extremely low frequency magnetic field induces alterations in ethanol production by S. cervisiae and that the magnetic field treatment can be easily implemented at an industrial scale.
The cellular suspension from the fermentor was externally recycled through a stainless steel tube inserted in two magnetic field generators which were operated conveniently in simple or combined ways. The recycle velocity and intensity of the magnetic field varied in a range of 0.6-1.4 m s-1 and 5-20 mT, respectively.
The best results of a 17% boosts in production were achieved under the conditions of 0.9-1.2 m s-1 and 20 mT plus solenoid.
In discussing the results, the researchers concluded that:
...we postulated that the positive effect on the ethanol production under magnetic field is due to both membrane permeability and a redox system that are affected by the electromagnetic field, resulting in alterations of ion transport (substrates) and consequently resulting in stimulatory effects on cell metabolism.
Victor H. Perez, Alfredo F. Reyes, Oselys R. Justo, David C. Alvarez, and Ranulfo M. Alegre; “Bioreactor Coupled with Electromagnetic Field Generator: Effects of Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields on Ethanol Production by Saccharomyces cerevisiae”; Biotechnol. Prog., ASAP Article 10.1021/bp070078k S8756-7938(07)00078-1