Beer as a natural energy resource

Friday, 11 May, 2007

A joint project between the University of Queensland (UQ) and Foster's to produce electricity from beer wastewater has won $140,000 from the Queensland Government's Sustainable Energy Innovation Fund.

The team from UQ's Advanced Wastewater Management Centre (AWMC) was awarded the funding at Foster's Yatala brewery by Minister for Environment Lindy Nelson-Carr.

The technology works by creating a microbial fuel cell, which feeds continuously on the organics in the brewery wastewater and turns it into watts, according to AWMC postdoctoral research fellow Dr Korneel Rabaey.

The process also produces clean water and renewable carbon dioxide.

Rabaey believes the smart use of natural resources is imperative in today's climate.

"Energy and water supply are among the biggest challenges we will face in the coming decades," he said. "Therefore, we must learn how to diversify our portfolio of fuels " and we must learn to reduce our energy and water usage."

AWMC director, Professor Jurg Keller, said the team is achieving good progress with a 10 litre prototype, with plans to have a pilot-scale model ready for an international bio-energy conference hosted by the University in September.

The patent-pending technology is designed for small to medium operations and could be used across a number of food, beverage and manufacturing industries.

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