Analysis and Quantification of Short Chain Fatty Acids in Fermentation Processes



Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) are volatile organic compounds emitted during fermentation. The precise knowledge of concentrations ratios of SCFAs in a given fermentation process is vital for the determination of the ferment’s quality and its organoleptic (as well as olfactory ) properties. An online method is required to monitor these substances simultaneously.


Mass spectrometry –in particular electron impact MS- suffers from fragmentation of higher fatty acids (e.g. by abstraction of methyl groups). This typically leads to a signal enhancement in the respective lower SCFA channel obscuring the actual concentration. V&F Ion Molecule Reaction Mass Spectrometers (IMR-MS) can be calibrated and fragmentation patterns into lower SCFAs predetermined. Through direct measurement of the headspace above the liquid phase within the bioreactor SCFA ratios can be measured online.


V&F’s state-of-the-art mass spectrometric systems employ a soft ionization method where fragmentation is kept to an absolute minimum. Volatile substances produced by bacteria can be measured highly selective and with superb sensitivity in the headspace above the fermentation process. The equipment’s capability to measure a range of substances simultaneously in real time provides a mechanism for quality control during industrial fermentation.


  • Monitoring SCFAs during fermentation
  • No sampling, no sample preparation
  • Quality Control

Reference customers (excerpt)


Applicable instruments