06 May 2007

Reading Between the Lines: Beer Maker to Create Renewable Energy

Beer maker Foster's plans to begin creating renewable energy at its breweries, using a microbial fuel cell.
The fuel cell is essentially a battery in which bacteria consume water-soluble brewing waste such as sugar, starch and alcohol.

The battery produces electricity plus clean water, said Prof. Jurg Keller, the university's wastewater expert.

The complex technology harnesses the chemical energy that the bacteria releases from the organic material, converting it into electrical energy.

The 660-gallon fuel cell will be 250 times bigger than a prototype that has been operating at the university laboratory for three months, Keller said.

"Brewery waste water is a particularly good source because it is very biodegradable ... and is highly concentrated, which does help in improving the performance of the cell," Keller said.

He expected the brewery cell would produce 2 kilowatts of power - enough to power a household - and the technology would eventually be applied in other breweries and wineries owned by Foster's. The cell should be operating at the brewery by September.

But what does this actually mean? Obviously, since the brewery cell produces only 2 kw of power--enough to power a household--every household will need its own brewery! The video above will provide an introduction to the topic of beer-making, but each household will need to scale up the technology in order to take full advantage of the microbial fuel cell technology. Beer making is a skill that every household should possess, and pass down through the generations.

Readers of this blog are familiar with Al Fin's emphasis on personal competence in practical skills--something that government schools do not typically teach to their students. The folly of that approach is made plain every time a natural or man-made disaster occurs, and the general incompetence of the masses is revealed time and again.

Beer-making is one of those indispensable skills that has the potential of bringing humanity out of a new dark age, should such an inconvenient fate befall the world. This is what we should take from news items such as this--we need to add beer making to the curriculum of our high schools, so that this important skill does not die out. We may run out of oil, but we should never run out of beer.

Hat tip Energy Blog.


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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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