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This is the same process that scientists use to create insulin and other life-saving drugs.
Our b-silk™ protein is made through a patented fermentation process where the inputs are yeast, water, sugar, and salt. While the specifics of our process are under lock and key, there’s a lot we can say about how we make b-silk™ protein. Call us nerdy, but we think it’s pretty cool.
What is Fermentation?
Here’s a quick introduction to the science of fermentation. Fermentation is a metabolic process where microorganisms break down molecules like glucose into another substance. This process is used to make beer, kombucha, kimchi, cheese, and lots of good things we eat. However, scientists use fermentation for much more than boozy drinks and sour foods. Industrial fermentation is used to make medicines, vaccines, insulin, and other substances that are useful to humans.
History of Fermentation
Fermentation dates back many millenia. Scientists have found evidence that Scandinavian people were fermenting fish at least 9,200 years ago. As for boozy drinks, evidence of the earliest known alcoholic beverage was found in Henan Province, China. The ancient cocktail, made from rice, honey, and fruit, dates back approximately 9,000 years. Fermentation had particularly useful applications during these times, as fermented food keeps much longer than fresh food.
The term “fermentation” was coined in the 19th century by French chemist Louis Pasteur. Pasteur used the word to describe the process in which microorganisms like yeasts are grown without air, or anaerobically. Pasteur also learned that ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide aren’t the only substances created by fermentation, which paved the way for industrial fermentation.
How we make B-silk™ Protein
At Eighteen B, we carry out our fermentation in our very own labs. While our process works seamlessly today, the exact recipe took many years to devise. Our engineers were able to teach yeast cells how to produce our proprietary b-silk™ protein when undergoing fermentation. This is the same process that scientists use to create insulin and other life-saving drugs.
We begin with a small bottle of solution made with yeast, water, sugar, and salt. To jump start the fermentation process, we shake it up to produce bubbles of oxygen, which the yeast uses as fuel to convert the sugar. We then move this solution into larger vats with more sugar, nutrients, and water.
From there, it’s our job to create the right environmental conditions (i.e. the right food, oxygen, temperature, pH, etc) to make the cells happy so they continue to grow and produce our protein at a high quality. It’s essential to keep the environment as sterile as possible, as any contaminants can ruin the batch.
We’ve determined the right conditions through a combination of scientific and engineering principles and trial and error. Some elements are very well-studied, such as the ideal temperature range to grow different types of yeast, while others required more experimentation. After settling on the right conditions, we’re able to replicate the same outcome every time.
After a few days, we’re left with what we call the “fermentation broth,” which includes water, trace amounts of leftover nutrients and other fermentation byproducts, and a lot of b-silk™ protein. We put the solution through a patented purification process that includes several steps of removing different ingredients from the broth. Finally, we dry the protein carefully so the proteins remain intact. The end result is our b-silk™ protein in powder form. From there, it goes into our formulations to make your skin better.
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