Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Arduino for Yeast Fermentation

For hobby electronics person like me, arduino is a very fun to play with. Simple coding combines any electronical input and output in any way you want so that  interactive devices can be made. We (hobby electronics people) love the cheap price of it: $25.

I am a student studying yeast fermentation, and we use this device called 'PLC' (Programmabel Logic Circuit, sounds intimidating yeah) to automate parts of the fermentation process. The industry uses this for fermentation processes too. Basically, capture electronical signal from the fermentor indicating its concentration of gas using PLC and send a signal from PLC to control another gas pump to maintain the gas level in the fermentor. This is the photo showing the PLC (the giant monster at the left) next to Arduino, and the fermentor that I use (at the background).  So the machine is much bigger and more expensive (~$500 vs $25). I have been playing around with programming PLC these days..

But you know what? I found you can do the exact same thing with Arduino. Arduino can take industry standard current or voltage signals and send out current and voltage signal in any way you want. The programming is much cleaner and interesting than PLC's. (PLC takes in this 'Ladder Diagram' programming that any programmer might feel very awkward.) So if I were that person in the industry, I would totally consider using arduino for yeast fermentation process development research. With Arduino, it saves you a lot of money (~$500), and it is much more flexible to program.

Since I am nearly the only person in the fermentor lab in an academic institution, I can do whatever heck I want with the fermentor including implementing arduino. Yeah you know what I will be doing next...

Update: Here is my MS thesis using Arduino. See page 24