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Analyzing Citric Acid

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The most widely used method for synthesizing citric acid was discovered by an American chemist named James Currie in 1917 in order to contend with the lack of citrus imports caused by the First World War. This method requires the fungus culture “Aspergillus niger”. This mould is fairly common in nature but special strains are used by the major citric acid producing companies to increase the fungus’s production of citric acid. This method involves substances that contain glucose such as simple sugar or molasses being fed to the fungus. The fungus uses the glucose as food and produces citric acid and carbon dioxide as waste products. When the peak concentration of citric acid is reached, the mould would be filtered out. A solution of base, such as calcium hydroxide, would then be added to the solution to create a salt, in the case of calcium hydroxide, the salt, calcium citrate, will be produced. The formula for calcium citrate is Ca3(C6H5O7)2. The equation for the reaction of calcium hydroxide and citric acid is (3Ca(OH)2 + 2H3C6H5O7 -> Ca3(C6H5O7)2 + 3H2). After the salt is filtered out, the citric acid is regenerated from the salt by adding an acid. Sulphuric acid is commonly used in this process. The equation for the reformation of citric acid from the salt, calcium citrate, is (3H2SO4 + Ca3(C6H5O7)2 -> H3C6H5O7 + 3CaSO4). The additional product, calcium sulphate is a precipitate and can be filtered out leaving an isolated citric acid as the only remaining product. The two widely used methods of fermentation are submerged and surface fermentation. They are relatively similar with the only difference being in surface fermentation the fungus would grow on top of the glucose that is being fed to it. Submerged fermen...

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