The Fermentation Sciences pilot plant facility provides students with hands-on educational and research opportunities in recipe development and production. Fermentation Science courses at Appalachian State University provide rigorous coverage of the chemical and physical processes that go into production of beverages, from raw ingredients characterization to yeast and bacteria metabolism, and how these elements translate into a final product. These principles are a focal point of activities in the pilot plant where students are encouraged to think creatively and to consider how their knowledge can be applied to provide novel and innovative solutions to real-world challenges.
Recent awards from the US Department of Agriculture and North Carolina Biotechnology Center have allowed us to expand our pilot plant to handle volumes ranging from 1-gallon to 150-gallon processes as well as flow-through, immobilized bed reactors. The variable brewing and processing capacities provide students an opportunity to take bench trials up to a small, commercial-scale experience and the opportunity to run collaborative trials with commercial producers.
Students have worked to develop computer control and monitoring systems, cooling and heating solutions, options for process-water reclamation, increased energy efficiencies, uses for spent grains and solids, and efficient design and layout of the facility and laboratory.