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

ITHACA, N.Y. 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, published "Bacterial Community Structures Are Unique and Resilient in Full-Scale Bioenergy Systems" (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Feb. 22, 2011.)

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.


Contact: Blaine Friedlander
Cornell University

Related biology news :

1. New Systems Biology Awards enable detailed study of microbes
2. Biosolids microbes pose manageable risk to workers
3. Study helps clarify role of soil microbes in global warming
4. Evolution in action: Our antibodies take evolutionary leaps to fight microbes
5. Understanding extinct microbes may influence the state of modern human health
6. Our microbes, ourselves
7. Microbes fuel energy debate
8. Special issue of BMC Microbiology spotlights standardized language for describing microbes
9. Microbes in mud flats clean up oil spill chemicals
10. Antibiotics take toll on beneficial microbes in gut
11. Plant protein doorkeepers block invading microbes, study finds
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015 Today, ... a partnership with 2XU, a global leader in ... a smart hat with advanced bio-sensing technology. The ... athletes to monitor key biometrics to improve overall ... partnership, the two companies will bring together the most ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... , Oct. 27, 2015 Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... announced that Google has adopted the Synaptics ® ... solutions to power its newest flagship smartphones, the Nexus ... --> --> ... to provide strategic collaboration in the joint development of ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... 26, 2015  Delta ID Inc., a company focused ... and PC devices, announced its ActiveIRIS® technology powers the ... F-02H launched by NTT DOCOMO, INC in ... second smartphone to include iris recognition technology, after a ... F-04G in May 2015, world,s first smartphone to have ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... , ... November 24, 2015 , ... Whitehouse Laboratories is ... The new stand-alone facility will be strictly dedicated to basic USP 61, USP ... existing clients the chance to have complete chemistry and micro testing performed by one ...
(Date:11/23/2015)...   Ceres, Inc . (Nasdaq: CERE ), ... the fiscal year ended August 31, 2015 and provided ... --> During fiscal year 2015, Ceres ... with a better balance of yield, energy and nutrition. ... several leading crop input providers and made significant progress ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... ... November 23, 2015 , ... Noblis, Inc., a leading provider of science, ... Programs, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), has joined the Noblis NSP team as President ... in the intelligence community and the private sector,” said L. Roger Mason, Jr., ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... , November 23, 2015 ... $4.27 million in 2015, and it is expected to ... 2023. The factors driving the growth of the global ... carbon sequestration property of biochar, increased government initiatives and ... government initiatives and stringent environment regulations are the key ...
Breaking Biology Technology: