The vitamin industry manufactures synthetic vitamins and coenzymes in the form of pure crystal-line substances and ready-to-use forms (lozenges, tablets, ampules, capsules, granules, and concentrates) and, in small quantities, vitamin preparations made from vegetable and animal raw materials. Vitamins increase the food value of food products and are used in medical practice and also for the vitaminization of feeds in order to raise the productivity of livestock.
The production of vitamins in the USSR began in the early 1930’s. Vitamin preparations made from natural raw materials were manufactured at first. Subsequently, the production of the synthetic vitamins C and K3 was mastered. Other vitamins, such as thiamine (vitamin B1), began to be synthesized on a commercial scale in 1949 using technology developed by Soviet scientists. In 1950 vitamin production in the USSR increased 5.6 times compared with 1940. By 1955 methods had been developed in the USSR for synthesizing all the known major vitamins. The subsequent growth of the Soviet vitamin industry was associated primarily with the development and adoption of synthetic methods of vitamin production. The technological processes involved in these methods are considerably more complex than the method of extracting vitamins from natural raw materials, but they permit production in chemically pure form, which is very important for the medical use and exact proportioning of vitamins during the manufacture of feed concentrates. In addition, the cost of producing synthetic vitamins is lower than the cost of obtaining the same vitamins from natural raw materials.
Between 1959 and 1965 the synthesis of all known vitamins and vitamin compounds on a commercial scale was mastered. Large new vitamin enterprises went into operation, such as the Belgorod Vitamin Combine and the Bolokhovo Chemical Combine (in Tula Oblast); the capacities of enterprises in operation prior to this period were increased considerably. The volume of vitamin production in the USSR increased 2.8 times between 1958 and 1965 and 2.6 times between 1965 and 1970. In 1970 the manufacture of synthetic vitamins and their ready-made forms accounted for more than 99 percent of the total volume of vitamin production.
Some of the specific features involved in vitamin synthesis are multistage processes; large requirements for material, which determines the need for locating vitamin production facilities near the source of raw materials; the use of special equipment designed to operate with corrosive substances; and the necessity to manufacture extremely pure products. Vitamin plants are specialized enterprises. Product specialization predominates; that is, the synthesis of vitamins is per-formed at each enterprise according to the full production scheme, including the manufacture of all intermediate products. Since the late 1960’s a more efficient technological type of specialization has developed in the manufacture of intermediate products.
In the USSR the scientific and technical problems of obtaining vitamins and their applications are worked out mainly at the All-Union Scientific Research Vitamin Institute and in the scientific research organizations of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR, the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, and the academies of sciences of the Union republics, ministries, and departments. Problems related to the improvement and development of existing production methods and facilities are resolved by central plant laboratories.
The main trends in the future development of the vitamin industry in the USSR will include the creation of new, highly effective compounds; improvements in production technology and the development of new, improved synthesizing methods based on the use of inexpensive domestic raw materials; an increase in the production of vitamins, coenzymes, and their ready-made forms to a level that fully meets the needs of the national economy and an expansion of the range of available products; the construction of new plants and the modernization of existing facilities; the mechanization and automation of production processes; the improvement and organization of separate intermediate product manufacturing at enterprises in other branches of industry; an increase in product quality; more technological specialization; and the adoption of automated industrial and production control systems.
Much progress has been made in the development of the vitamin industry in other socialist countries. The USSR has rendered technical assistance to these countries in the organization of research and large-capacity production and has provided project documentation and samples of preparations. The production of synthetic vitamins and their ready-made forms is experiencing a rapid rate of development in Bulgaria, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, Po-land, Rumania, and Czechoslovakia. A large Soviet-designed plant for the synthesis of ascorbic acid was built in Bulgaria. The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) coordinates scientific research work and oversees the ex-change of information.
In the most developed capitalist countries, particularly in the USA, Japan, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and Switzerland, vitamin production has reached very high levels. Vitamin production in these countries is generally concentrated in the hands of the chemical and pharmaceutical companies.
The vitamin synthesis sections at the chemical and pharmaceutical plant in Hyderabad (India) were built according to technical specifications developed in the USSR.
REFERENCESBol’shaia Sovetskaia Entsiklopediia, 2nd ed., vol. 8. Moscow, 1951. Pages 180-85.
Berezovskii, V. M. Khimiia vitaminov. Moscow, 1959.
Vitaminy: Nauchnyi obzor, part 1. Moscow, 1968.
A. N. KALACHEV