Assist. Prof. Burcu Gunes and the technical setup for harvesting renewable bioenergy
Assist. Prof. Burcu Gunes and the technical setup for harvesting renewable bioenergy

SoBT Engineers Offer Insight into Renewable Energy Bioprocesses

Assist. Profs. Jenny Lawler and Burcu Gunes of the School of Biotechnology and DCU Water Institute have recently published a review detailing state-of-the-art bioprocessing techniques within the distilling industry with a specific focus on sustainability. The review; which features in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, examines methodologies and processes that allow industry to harness renewable bioenergy from the waste materials typically generated from traditional distilling processes.   

Assist. Prof. Burcu Gunes; School of Biotechnology“The waste to energy conversion potential of whiskey distilleries and breweries is attracting more and more global interest due to the high energy demands the manufacturing processes command”, describes Assist. Prof Burcu Gunes, “As well, there are environmental concerns regarding the production of the organic wastes as part of the processes”.

As such, the group, in partnership with Alltech Ltd., have set about harnessing a renewable bioenergy source from the waste water generated as part of the distillation workflow. Using a combination of novel hybrid pre-treatment methods, the yields and purity of biogas obtained from anaerobic fermentation of the material have been significantly improved. In addition to these improvements, the group also found that the digestate that is left over from the fermentation process can be used an eco-friendly biofertilizer; outperforming traditional chemical fertilizers.

“By implementing these approaches companies are committing to an environmentally-friendly waste management technology that not only mitigates climate change by offering a sustainable biofuel to replace fossil fuels, but also producing cleaner biofertilizers for agricultural applications”.

For those interested in the article, it can be found here at the journal website.