Improvement on the productivity of continuous tequila fermentation by Saccharomyces cerevisiae of Agave tequilana juice with supplementation of yeast extract and aeration
Journal article, 2016
Agave (Agave tequilana Weber var. azul) fermentations are traditionally carried out employing batch systems in the process of tequila manufacturing; nevertheless, continuous cultures could be an attractive technological alternative to increase productivity and efficiency of sugar to ethanol conversion. However, agave juice (used as a culture medium) has nutritional deficiencies that limit the implementation of yeast continuous fermentations, resulting in high residual sugars and low fermentative rates. In this work, fermentations of agave juice using Saccharomyces cerevisiae were put into operation to prove the necessity of supplementing yeast extract, in order to alleviate nutritional deficiencies of agave juice. Furthermore, continuous fermentations were performed at two different aeration flow rates, and feeding sterilized and non-sterilized media. The obtained fermented musts were subsequently distilled to obtain tequila and the preference level was compared against two commercial tequilas, according to a sensorial analysis. The supplementation of agave juice with air and yeast extract augmented the fermentative capacity of S. cerevisiae S1 and the ethanol productivities, compared to those continuous fermentations non supplemented. In fact, aeration improved ethanol production from 37 to 40 g L-1, reducing sugars consumption from 73 to 88 g L-1 and ethanol productivity from 3.0 to 3.2 g (Lh)(-1), for non-aerated and aerated (at 0.02 vvm) cultures, respectively. Supplementation of yeast extract allowed an increase in specific growth rate and dilution rates (0.12 h(-1), compared to 0.08 h(-1) of non-supplemented cultures), ethanol production (47 g L-1), reducing sugars consumption (93 g L-1) and ethanol productivity [5.6 g (Lh)(-1)] were reached. Additionally, the effect of feeding sterilized or non-sterilized medium to the continuous cultures was compared, finding no significant differences between both types of cultures. The overall effect of adding yeast extract and air to the continuous fermentations resulted in 88 % increase in ethanol productivity. For all cultures, pH was not controlled, reaching low pH values (from 2.6 to 3). This feature suggested a reduced probability of contamination for prolonged continuous cultures and explained why no significant differences were found between continuous cultures fed with sterilized or non-sterilized media. Concentrations of volatile compounds quantified in the distillates (tequila) were in the allowed ranges established by the Mexican regulation of tequila (NOM-006-SCFI-2012, Norma Oficial Mexicana: Bebidas alcoholicas-Tequila-specificaciones, 2012). The preference level of the distillates was similar to that of two well-known commercial tequilas. The results suggested the possibility of implementing this innovative technology on an industrial scale, attaining high productivities and using non-sterilized agave juice.