What is fermentation?

Fermentation is a scientific process that breaks down the sugar found in organic materials. Through a series of chemical reactions during fermentation, glucose is converted to ethanol, an alcohol-based biofuel that can be used to power cars, trucks, and airplanes.

While most ethanol fuel is produced from corn, sugar cane, and sweet potatoes, it can also be made from wheat, barley, oats and rice.

Ethanol production from corn

Why corn?

Corn-based ethanol is one of the most common ethanol fuels. Ethanol from corn is created via a basic fermentation process that converts the plant’s sugars into alcohol. Yeast or other bacteria are then added to the biomass, which in turn feeds on those sugars to produce ethanol fuel and CO2.

The resulting corn ethanol is then distilled and dehydrated to become ready to use in automobiles. As a bonus, the leftover solids can be used as feed for cattle.

The perfect yeast for ethanol fuel

What’s yeast got to do with it?

While ethanol production from corn seems like a basic scientific process, the details can be tricky. Surveys show that more than half of starch ethanol plants face operational upsets – many related to yeast. Stressors include high heat, infections, organic acids, yeast nutrition, throughput limitations and more. 

Many producers had to solve these issues by using more antibiotics or adding more yeast. This increases inputs and contributes to overall process complexity. With the introduction of Novozymes Innova® yeasts for ethanol fermentation, producers can avoid the common operational stressors created by yeast and work through bacterial contamination and other stressful ethanol fuel production conditions.

During fermentation, Innova® yeasts produce a high-performing glucoalymase enzyme that is twice as effective as the glucoamylases produced by other yeasts. The result is a new standard for fermentation performance. When bioenergy producers pair a companion fermentation enzyme blend with Innova® yeasts, the result is a maximum ethanol fuel conversion and starch conversion efficiency.

Why is yeast vital for ethanol fuel production?

Yeast converts raw materials into ethanol fuel. Corn goes into the plant and is broken down by enzymes to prepare it for fermentation. Yeast is then added during the fermentation process. The yeast consumes the raw materials and releases ethanol fuel and carbon dioxide.

Ethanol producers spend a lot of time and energy ensuring that the right conditions exist for the yeast to thrive. The stronger and more efficient the yeast, the better prepared it is to tolerate production stress and generate ethanol fuel – improving productivity and profitability.

Improve your bioenergy plant’s efficiency

Learn more about Innova yeasts

Ideal for plants with >52-hour fermentation times, Innova® Force is the most flexible, advanced enzyme expressing yeast, available in cream or dry form.


  • Expands throughput by fermenting high dry solids
  • Tolerant to high temperature excursions and high lactic acid        events
  • Significantly reduces need for additional yeast nutrients
  • Produces powerful starch-scavenging enzymes and an advanced,      novel glucoamylase
  • Maximizes fermentation kinetics and starch conversion

Now you can operate your bioenergy plant at higher temperatures year-round to achieve better production levels. Using a yeast bred to power through heat excursions up to 98°F/~37°C, you can diminish plant downtime, increase efficiency and output in any season, and potentially decrease cooling costs.


  • Maintain ethanol fuel production with high organic acid     events
  • Run faster fermentations at higher solids 
  • Maximize starch conversion


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Reset your fermentation expectations
Innova® Fit sets a new standard as the most advanced non-GM dry yeast


  • Power through high temperature excursions without                        sacrificing yield
  • Expand throughput by fermenting high dry solids
  • Increase ethanol yield up to 2%
  • May reduce your need for yeast nutritional supplements


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