From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]


Clean Energy From Beer-Making

By ROD McGUIRK  /  03 May 2007

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Scientists and Australian beer maker
Foster’s are teaming up to generate clean energy from brewery waste
water – by using sugar-consuming bacteria.

The experimental technology was unveiled Wednesday by scientists at
Australia’s University of Queensland, which was given a $115,000 state
government grant to install a microbial fuel cell at a Foster’s Group
brewery near Brisbane, the capital of Queensland state.

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

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.

“It’s not going to make an enormous amount of power – its primarily a
waste water treatment that has the added benefit of creating
electricity,” Keller said.

Contact Details

Jürg Keller
Advanced Wastewater Management Centre
St Lucia, Brisbane QLD 4072, Australia
Phone: +61 7 3365 4727
Fax: +61 7 3365 4726
Email: j [dot] keller [at] awmc [dot] uq [dot] edu [dot] au

Street Address:
University of Queensland
Room B107, Ritchie Building (64A)
Research Road

Research Interests

# Environmental biotechnology: I have a strong interdisciplinary
interest and very active collaboration with biological scientists in
the field of wastewater treatment processes for many years. This
provides an excellent understanding of the various process
technologies and complex microbial populations dynamics in
environmental bio-process environments.

# Biological Nutrient Removal process development: I have been working
on biological nutrient removal R&D for over nine years and have
developed several novel process options. This has lead to three
patents so far on Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR) technology and
continuous nutrient removal processes.

# Anaerobic treatment technologies: My experience with anaerobic
systems spans for over ten years and includes modelling, simulation,
optimisation and fundamental aspects of this important process option
for solid and liquid waste treatment technologies, in particular in
sugar, meat processing and food and beverage industries.

# Bio-process characterisation: I have generated an expert
understanding of the guiding fundamentals of biochemical processes
including mass-transfer, elemental balancing and growth and reaction
kinetics. This has enabled the development of several characterisation
tools for detailed investigations of complex, environmental bio-
processes under dynamic situations.

Research Projects

Nitrogen Removal in Wastewater Treatment Using the Nitrite Pathway
Enhanced Biological Phosphorus Removal: Optimisation through Process
Analysis and Operational Improvements
Identification of Pathways and Microbial Processes in Simultaneous
Nitrification and Denitrification
Rumen Enhanced Digestion of Organic Waste
The Ecological Significance of Dissolved Organic Nitrogen from
Wastewater Treatment Plants
The Microbial Ecology of Enhanced Biological Phosphorus Removal
Molecular Characterisation of Methanol Utilising Denitrifiers
Biological Nutrient Removal: The Quantification and Study of Organisms
involved in Biological Nutrient Removal
Biological Phosphorus Removal Optimisation Through Fundamental
Microbial Analysis
Effluent Management at a Catchment Scale: A Strategic Integrated
Approach to Small Scale Wastewater Management
Using Photosynthetic Bacteria to Remove Sulfide from Anaerobically
Treated Wastewater
Water and Wastewater Management at Remote Tourist Destinations
Optimising Performance of Constructed Wetlands for Removal of
A Catchment-Based Approach to Wastewater Recycling for Regional
Economic Development
Mass Transfer Within Biological Wastewater Treatment Systems
Coding Error Isolation in Computerised Simulation Models with
Application to Wastewater Treatments Systems
Development of the H-DOC Biosensor for Characterisation of Activated
Sludge Kinetics and Wastewater Composition

Key Publications

Zeng, R.J., Lemaire, R., Yuan, Z. and Keller, J. (2003). Simultaneous
Nitrification, Denitrification and Phosphorus Removal in a Lab-Scale
Sequencing Batch Reactor. Biotechnology and Bioengineering 84(2):

Batstone, D.J., Keller, J., Angelidaki, I., Kalyuzhnyi, S.,
Pavlostathis, S., Rozzi, A., Sanders, W., Siegrist, H. and Vavilin, V.
(2002). The IWA Anaerobic Digestion Model No1 (ADM1). London, UK, IWA

Keller, J., Yuan, Z. and Blackall, L.L. (2002). Integrating process
engineering and microbiology tools to advance wastewater treatment
research and development. Reviews in Environmental Science and
BioTechnology. 1, 83-97

Gapes, D. and Keller, J. (2001). Analysis of biological wastewater
treatment processes using multicomponent gas phase mass balancing.
Biotechnology & Bioengineering 76(4): 361-375.

Burrell, P, Keller, J and Blackall, L L (1998). “Microbiology of a
Nitrite Oxidizing Bioreactor.” Applied and Environmental Microbiology
64(5): 1878-1883.

Bond, P L, Hugenholtz, P, Keller, J and Blackall, L L (1995).
“Bacterial community structures of phosphate and non-phosphate
removing activated sludges from sequencing batch reactors.” Applied
and Environmental Microbiology 61(5): 1910-1916.