This fermentative production requires the aid of microorganisms and glucose from plant starch. These microorganisms are by nature able to synthesize cysteine. In the fermentation tank, they produce the amino acid in a continuous stream of glucose and inorganic trace elements. The microorganisms release cysteine directly into the surrounding culture medium in the fermenter, where spontaneous oxidation takes place – two molecules come together to form the dimer cystine. This product can subsequently be reduced again to the monomeric cysteine by electrolysis. The latter is one of the 20 natural amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.
Thanks to their properties and high level of purity, WACKER’s FERMOPURE® products have a broad application range in the food and pharmaceutical industries. They find use in the manufacture of flavorings, as additives in baked good and as an essential component of baby and toddler food. Cystine and cysteine are popular ingredients in nutritional supplements for strengthening the skin, hair and nails. The pharmaceutical sector uses cysteine in expectorants or to produce insulin, for example. “In León, we are well-equipped to satisfy our customers’ growing demand for cysteine in the long term and to advance other bioengineered products,” says Neumann.