Penicillin surface fermentation vessel, c 1942.

Image number: 10328149

Penicillin surface fermentation vessel, c 1942.

Penicillin production by the mould Penicillium needs oxygen, unlike beer production from yeast. Therefore, the fungus is grown on the surface of a shallow nutrient soup. The sterilisable containers are plugged with cotton wool to stop the air bringing in common bacteria which destroy penicillin. These specially designed flat, stackable porcelain vessels, made by Imperial Chemical Industries' Pharmaceutical Division, proved ideal in the early production of penicillin.

Image number:
10328149
Credit:
Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
Date taken:
30 October 2003 09:19
Image rights:
Science Museum