Soon, liquid biofuels to be produced from brewery waste

Monday, February 28, 2011

Washington, Feb 28 (ANI): Cornell scientists are hoping to use brewery waste to produce liquid biofuels and other useful products.

They have gained new insight into how efficiently the microbes in large bioreactors produce methane from brewery waste.

For the study, first author Largus T. Angenent, and Jeffrey J. Werner, teamed up with engineers at Anheuser-Busch InBev.

And the team had access to a plethora of data, which makes Budweiser beer and operates nine domestic beer breweries that treat wastewater in bioreactors.

They took regular samples of bioreactor sludge from each of the facilities over the course of a year and, using state-of-the-art genome sequencing software, they analyzed more than 400,000 gene sequences of the microbes in the sludge.

Among the thousands of species of bacteria, the researchers identified 145 types that were unique to each of the nine facilities showing that each bioreactor hosted a specific microbial community.

In their analysis they observed that certain types of bacteria called syntrophs had surprisingly stable populations.

Typically inside these million-gallon bioreactor tanks, the microbial populations in the sludge interact and one of them produces methane gas.

Understanding their functions and how they change with environment could lead to learning how to make the communities of microbes perform new functions.

The study has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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