BioWET 2012 Summer School Workshop at the University of South Florida began this Monday morning with a preliminary meeting with all participants, followed by a tour of the local Yuengling Brewery. The meeting was essentially a platform for exchange of knowledge between participants from the United States and the European Union on all matters related to biological waste-to-energy, from biogas upgrade to anaerobic digestion of agricultural and animal wastes, to sanitary landfills and the debate of garbage disposal into the wastewater stream versus landfilling, to social, technical, regulatory, and economical barriers to the widespread adoption of emerging paradigms and technologies in the field.
One interesting takeaway from the meeting was that wastewater is still not classified as a renewable resource in most states in the United States, so even though it is possible to receive renewable energy credits for installing a wind turbine at a wastewater treatment plant, installing biogas equipment is not associated with any sort of incentive.
Another highlight from the meeting was about Germany - currently Germany is producing over 50% of all biogas in the European Union, and they have built the infrastructure to upgrade and supply the biogas into the natural gas grid. Sweden is another country that is going the same route. This seems to be a smart move in an environment where natural gas is being embraced by big oil companies as the next strategic product, as the global oil reserves are projected to have trouble meeting the growing demand in the near future.
The tour of the Yuengling Brewery revealed how important it is to know your hops, your barley, and your malt; how often to change the yeast culture used for fermentation (6 months to a year - remember to keep the mother culture in a lab with cryogenic facilities!); how much it can save you to recover and reuse the carbondioxide from the fermentation process, and to sell your diatomaceous earth. Wastewater treatment? Yes, they are working on that, too.
Finally, the most important bit of information from today: Remember not to leave your beer exposed to sunlight, unless you enjoy the nasty, bitter taste that will ensue.
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of South Florida
Tampa, 33620, FL