Australia is converting stale beer into electricity

21 Aug 2020

When lockdowns closed pubs, watering holes around Australia found themselves saddled with kegs of ales and lagers that were slowly passing their expiration date. However, instead of dumping them down the drain – which would require additional disposal permitting – the resourceful Aussies in the state of South Australia found a new life for these brews at the Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant in Adelaide.

Millions of liters of unused beer from local breweries have now found their way to this wastewater plant to be converted into renewable energy in the form of biogas.

Australia is converting stale beer into electricity
Image via Wil Stewart on Unsplash

Biogas in an innovative form of energy that is created in “digesters” that are concrete tanks that provide an oxygen-deprived environment in which organic industrial waste can mix with sewage sludge to produce biogas through an anaerobic process. Generally, this process produces 80% of the energy needs for this wastewater plant in southern Australia, however, the addition of stale suds has supercharged the process.

Now, Lisa Hannant, senior manager of production and treatment at SA Water, said in a statement that the plant is producing 654 megawatt hours of energy in a single month, which is sufficient to power 1,200 homes. All of this extra energy comes from 150,000 liters of expired beer that is donated to the wastewater plant weekly.

According to Hannant, the high caloric content of beer makes it “perfect” for the anaerobic digestion process due to its ability to release substantial amounts of heat and power the decomposition process to produce methane-rich gas.

Although these donations are not addressing the core issue of lost income for brewers, it at least provides a destination for beer that would otherwise be wasted. CNN affiliate 7News originally reported that one of the country’s largest breweries, Lion Beer Australia, is emptying 90,000 kegs or 4.5 million liters per month.

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