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November 11th marks the passing of Artturi Ilmari Virtanen. Virtanen was a Finnish biochemist who invented the AIV (his initials) fodder technique to prevent spoilage in stored green silage. Storing green plant fodder during long winters was always difficult since by the end of winter, it would ferment and be rendered inedible and possibly result in starvation. Virtanen noticed the process of fermentation would cease when a particular acidity was reached. He prepared a solution of dilute hydrochloric or sulfuric acid and added it to the stored fodder. The fodder remained fresh and did not affect its nutritive value.

This discovery greatly changed the way agricultural fodder is stored. It also earned Virtanen the 1945 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Find out what else occurred on this day in science history.


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