Hitherto the production of acetone and alcohols by the fermentation of starchy bodies has been effected by means of bacteria inter alia by bacteria defined as of the type of Fitz. Fermentation of this kind has always been effected under strictly anaerobic conditions in closed vessels.
I have found that certain heat-resisting bacteria, which are identified by the fact that they will convert the greater part of maize or other grain starch into acetone and butyl alcohol, and will also liquefy gelatin, can be used for the purpose of obtaining large yields of acetone and alcohols by the fermentation of substances rich in starch or other carbohydrates mixed with such substances under aerobic or anaerobic conditions, i.e. with free access to air as in yeast fermentation, or without.
From Charles (Chaim) Weizmann’s surprisingly short and informal 1919 patent of aerobic fermentation of starches to acetone. Weizmann describes his process for isolating Clostridium acetobutylicum (the Weizmann organism), which was used by the British to produce acetone, a necessary solvent for the production of cordite (contemporary smokeless gunpowder). Anaerobic fermentation conditions are notoriously hard to maintain (indeed, this continues to trouble the biofuels industry) and so the invention of aerobic acetone fermentation made acetone production much simpler and productive. This was pivotal to British military success in WWI and lead to the 1917 issuance of the Balfour Declaration, which Lord Arthur Balfour issued in support of Weizmann’s Zionist objectives.
via Ron Milo