Penicillin fermentation vessel

1935-1945 in England

Norman Heatley's Ceramic penicillin fermentation vessel, 1935-1945.

Norman Heatley worked on the production of penicillin in the early 1940s. Heatley's job was to produce as much 'mould juice' as possible, thereby allowing the other members of his team to study the effects of penicillin on the body. Prior to designing this object, Heatley used a variety of different containers including bed pans, biscuit tins, and pie dishes.

Heatley was unable to acquire enough bed pans to create a sufficient amount of mould broth. Seeking to improve levels of production, he designed ceramic containers such as this one. They were glazed on the inside to ensure that they were watertight and rectangular in shape in order to be stored efficiently during the incubation process.

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Science Museum: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries

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