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Anal Chem. 1990 Sep 15;62(18):1977-82.

Noninvasive method for monitoring ethanol in fermentation processes using fiber-optic near-infrared spectroscopy.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


Short-wavelength near-infrared (SW-near-IR) spectroscopy (700-1100 nm) is used for the determination of ethanol during the time course of a fermentation. Measurements are performed noninvasively by means of a photodiode array spectrometer equipped with a fiber-optic probe placed on the outside of the glass-wall fermentation vessel. Pure ethanol/water and ethanol/yeast/water mixtures are studied to establish the spectral features that characterize ethanol and to show that determination of ethanol is independent of the yeast concentration. Analysis of the second-derivative data is accomplished with multilinear regression (MLR). The standard error of prediction (SEP) of ethanol in ethanol/water solutions is approximately 0.2% over a range of 0-15%; the SEP of ethanol in ethanol/yeast/water solutions is 0.27% (w/w). Results from the mixture experiments are then applied to actual yeast fermentations of glucose to ethanol. By use of a gas chromatographic method for validation, a good correlation is found between the intensity of backscattered light at 905 nm and the actual ethanol. Additional experiments show that a calibration model created for one fermentation can be used to predict ethanol production during the time course of others with a prediction error of 0.4%.

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