Christian Gunder
Fermenting change

Christian Gunder

Episode 10 of the modern Chemistry podcast heads to the Mid-West US, Nebraska, to be precise. We interview Christian Gunder, who is a

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Our theme music is “Wholesome” by Kevin MacLeod
Music from Film Music
License: CC BY
Connect with me (Paul) on LinkedIn.

fermentation microbiologist, currently working at Cargill. As you’ll hear in the show, Christian works on developing and optimizing a fermentation process for lactic acid products, which is then put to very interesting use.

Terms used during interview

  • Lactic acid – an organic (carbon-based) acid, with the chemical formula CH3CH(OH)COOH
  • Biopolymer – In this case, biopolymer refers to a polymer manufactured from biologically produced subunits. The subunits are specifically lactic acid in this case. A polymer is a molecule composed of repeating subunits.
  • Biofuel – a fuel produced by processing biomass such as plant material or plant or food waste.
  • Biochemical engineering – using biological processes (either living cells or molecules produced by living cells) in commercial manufacturing processes.
  • Microbiology – the study of microorganisms, either unicellular or multicellular. Microbiology has a diverse range of sub-disciplines.
  • Microgel – a gel produced from a network of microscopic filaments of a polymer.
  • Fermentation – in this case, it refers to yeast activity on substrate material (the sugars from corn) and conversion into lactic acid. More widely, it can be thought of as any biological process which converts one substance into another.
  • Starch – a polymer made of multiple glucose subunits. Almost all green plants produce it as a form of energy storage. Chemical formula (C6H10O5)n
  • Dextrose – another name for glucose, a simple sugar with the formula C6H12O6
  • Strain (of yeast) – a specific variety of yeast with specific genetic and behavioral traits
  • Scale down – taking a process from a large scale and replicating conditions on a smaller scale
  • Scale-up – taking a process from a small scale and replicating conditions on a larger scale
  • Bioreactor – A device (usually some sort of container) that supports a biologically active environment.
  • Gas transfer – the movement of gasses from the atmosphere (or in a bioreactor, from the inputs) into a liquid
  • Media – a liquid supplemented with the necessary ingredients to support biological processes.

Watch the Journey to the microcosmos video here.

If you want to connect with Christian or find out more about what he does, you can find him on LinkedIn.