In 1916, Alphonse Cappuyns and Arsène Smeets, both students from Leuven, started searching for the biological production of citric acid. First they tried by letting random micro-organisms ferment sugar into citric acid. Later they proceeded by selecting the Aspergillus niger fungus after which they achieved a productivity which allowed for industrial exploitation. This led to the foundation of the Belgian-Italian company La Citrique Belge in 1929. In 1947, the basic substrate sugar was changed with the cheaper by-product molasses and the production and profitability increased steadily. In 1977, Citrique Belge was acquired by Hoffmann–La Roche and after the acquisition, the production capacity of citric acid was more than doubled. In 2003, DSM took over the vitamin division of Roche, including Citrique Belge. In 2010, Citrique Belge was acquired by Adcuram.
- Context management in bedrijf
- F. Smeets, Microbial production of citric acid, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Volume 49, Number 1, January, 1983, pp. 86-87
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