Food & Wine

Beer’s Second Life in South Australia During Lockdown

1 October 2020By Laura Shaughnessy
iStock/Ridofranz

Written by

Laura Shaughnessy

Laura Shaughnessy has been the managing editor at Dockwalk since February 2018. Having grown up among the cornfields, she is ecstatic to be among the boats in the yachting capital of the world. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s in journalism, 15 years of experience with newspapers, magazines, and the online world, Laura has joined a great crew. When not writing about superyacht crew, she’s hanging out with her husband and their German Shepherd, working on house projects, or binging on Netflix.

Talk about getting a do-over during a dark time in history. When Australia’s lockdown shut down restaurants and bars in March, the beer went to waste…or so everyone thought.

According to CNN, these expired ales and lagers went on to do great things — namely by powering a water treatment plant in South Australia. Millions of liters of unused beer were converted into renewable energy at the Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant to the west of Adelaide, South Australia’s state capital.

By mixing organic industrial waste with sewage sludge, it produces biogas, a type of biofuel that’s naturally produced from organic waste decomposition. This is then converted into electricity, which powers the entire facility. CNNreported that this usually generates enough biogas to provide about 80 percent of its energy needs.

“By adding around 150,000 liters of expired beer per week, we generated a record 355,200 cubic meters of biogas in May and another 320,000 cubic meters in June, which is enough to power 1,200 houses,” Lisa Hannant, senior manager of production and treatment at SA Water, told CNN. She said that this has boosted its energy generation to new levels, reaching 654 megawatt hours in a single month. Hannant adds that the high calorie count makes it “perfect” for the anaerobic digestion process, thanks to the amount of heat released during combustion.

This column is taken from the October 2020 issue of Dockwalk.

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