A key aim of this research field is to ensure that quality and hygiene standards are met for a range of products made by AGRANA. Other activities include developing new recycling possibilities for by-products and improving processes in bioethanol production. The requirements range from long-term projects to urgently required solutions.
The Microbiology & Biotechnology department possess a strain collection in which roughly 1,000 different micro-organisms, such as yeasts, moulds and bacteria, are kept and cultivated. Storing them properly in liquid nitrogen ensures that the individual micro-organisms can survive for years.
The strain collection is constantly being expanded and updated by ARIC with natural, in- isolates. As a result, we can produce all the seed materials required in the microbiological and biotechnological segment ourselves.
AGRANA subjects its products to the highest standards of quality and hygienic purity. To be able to guarantee this, a wide range of different samples from every plant is analysed in our laboratory on a continuous basis using state-of-the-art microbiological methods. To this end, we have access to a rotor gene qPCR device, a NanoQuant microplate reader, a NEXUS PCR and various traditional agar contact plate methods, among others.
A security level 2 laboratory has been set up for more complex requirements. As a result, it is now possible for us to work safely with pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, Cronobacter and Legionella, as well as with viruses and toxic fungi.
By introducing these state-of-the-art techniques, we have been able to considerably improve analysis accuracy and time. In this way, and ensuring the continuous training of its staff, AGRANA can guarantee the highest quality standards.
The Pischelsdorf wheat starch plant was taken into service in June 2013. Since then, bioethanol has been extracted from the unused residual raw material components resulting from starch production, in addition to the grain previously used. The stillage is processed further to make protein-rich, GMO-free feed (ActiProt®) and high quality fertiliser (BioAgenasol®). Any incidental carbon dioxide is extracted via a CO2 recovery plant operated by an industrial gas company.
The Microbiology & Biotechnology department helps to optimise wheat starch and bioethanol production by supporting the production process and answering specific questions in respect of:
- Microbiologically monitoring well water and process flows
- Testing the latest enzymes available on the marketIdentifying the most efficient type of yeast
- Increasing the fermentation rate by means of additives
- Assisting in the optimisation of process technology
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
The polymerase chain reaction enables DNA to be reproduced, making it possible to identify micro-organisms and their potential threat. This enables significant time savings since it involves less work compared to standard agar contact plate methods.
The use of quantitative PCR (qPCR) allows for the quantitative determination of micro-organisms and also those of specific (toxic) genes in a sample.
To perform this work, we have a Nexus PCR device, a rotor gene qPCR device, a Qiaxcel gel electrophoresis and a NanoQuant microplate reader at our disposal.
The Microbiology & Biotechnology department has a fermentation plant with appropriate equipment for downstreaming, including six fermenters (two 3 l, two 20 l, one 30 l, one 300 l), separators, a chamber filter press, spray and rotary drum driers, as well as an ultrafiltration plant.
This equipment allows us to start with small-scale fermentation trials and then scale up accordingly.