Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

This microbe's for you: Brewery waste becomes scientific fodder for producing liquid biofuels

Date:
February 28, 2011
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Gaining new insight into how efficiently the microbes in large bioreactors produce methane from brewery waste, scientists hope to use their new knowledge to shape these microbial communities to produce liquid biofuels and other useful products.

Gaining new insight into how efficiently the microbes in large bioreactors produce methane from brewery waste, Cornell scientists hope to use their new knowledge to shape these microbial communities to produce liquid biofuels and other useful products.

The scientists Largus T. Angenent, associate professor of biological and environmental engineering, and the first author and research associate Jeffrey J. Werner, recently published an article on their research in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientists had access to a plethora of data, thanks to a collaboration with engineers at Anheuser-Busch InBev, 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.

"The cool thing we found was that if you're looking at these thousands of species of bacteria, it's a very dynamic system with things dying off and replacing them," Werner said. "There are certain signature populations that are resilient. Even if they get disturbed, they come right back up."

Typically inside these million-gallon bioreactor tanks, the microbial populations in the sludge interact and one of them produces methane gas. Anheuser-Busch InBev recoups 20 percent of its heat energy use through the methane produced, saving the company millions of dollars every year.

Angenent said that where the genome surveys of these microbial communities could lead is particularly exciting. Understanding their functions and how they change with environment -- be it pH or temperature, for example -- could lead to learning how to make the communities of microbes perform new functions.

In ongoing research, the Cornell engineers are looking to prevent methane production by the microbes, and instead, to shape the bacterial communities to produce carboxylates, which are a precursor to the alkanes found in fuels.

"We are going to shape these communities so they start making what we want," Angenent said.

The researchers also collaborated with scientists at University of Colorado at Boulder and at Washington University in St. Louis. The work was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy and National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. J. Werner, D. Knights, M. L. Garcia, N. B. Scalfone, S. Smith, K. Yarasheski, T. A. Cummings, A. R. Beers, R. Knight, L. T. Angenent. Bacterial community structures are unique and resilient in full-scale bioenergy systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1015676108

Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "This microbe's for you: Brewery waste becomes scientific fodder for producing liquid biofuels." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110228090216.htm>.
Cornell University. (2011, February 28). This microbe's for you: Brewery waste becomes scientific fodder for producing liquid biofuels. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110228090216.htm
Cornell University. "This microbe's for you: Brewery waste becomes scientific fodder for producing liquid biofuels." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110228090216.htm (accessed October 19, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Powerful Hurricane Gonzalo Heads to Bermuda

Raw: Powerful Hurricane Gonzalo Heads to Bermuda

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) Hurricane Gonzalo pounded Bermuda with wind and heavy surf on Friday, bearing down on the tiny British territory as a powerful Category 3 storm that could raise coastal seas as much as 10 feet. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) Researchers believe an extinct kangaroo species weighed 500 pounds or more and couldn't hop. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Gonzalo Is A Category 4 And Heading To Bermuda

Hurricane Gonzalo Is A Category 4 And Heading To Bermuda

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) Powerful hurricane could hit Bermuda this weekend, and even if it misses it will likely do some damage. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Largest Volcano In Centuries Is Spewing Toxic Gas

The Largest Volcano In Centuries Is Spewing Toxic Gas

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) One of the largest volcanic eruptions in centuries is occurring on Iceland. The volcano Bardarbunga is producing high levels of sulfur dioxide. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins