A method for sterilizing process fermentation vessels with a concentrated alcohol and water mixture integrated in a fuel alcohol or other alcohol production facility. Hot, concentrated alcohol is drawn from a distillation or other purification stage and sprayed into the empty fermentation vessels. This sterilizing alcohol/water mixture should be of a sufficient concentration, preferably higher than 12% alcohol by volume, to be toxic to undesirable microorganisms. Following sterilization, this sterilizing alcohol/water mixture can be recovered back into the same distillation or other purification stage from which it was withdrawn. The process of this invention has its best application in, but is not limited to, batch fermentation processes, wherein the fermentation vessels must be emptied, cleaned, and sterilized following completion of each batch fermentation process.
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF THE INVENTION
The United States Government has rights in this invention under Contract No. DE-AB01-89GC20195.M000 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Solar Energy Research Institute, a Division of Midwest Research Institute.