Primary Investigator: Paige Novak
Co-Investigators: William Arnold, William Northrop, Daniel Forbes
Industry Partners: Fulton Brewery; Metropolitan Council Environmental Services
Award Type: Demonstration Grant

Problem: Food industries, dairy industries, and breweries generate wastewater that contains compounds inherently high in chemical energy. Yet rarely is this chemical energy considered as a potential energy source/asset within the water treatment process. Additionally, at least in the Twin Cities, most wastewater is treated centrally through processes that consume electricity, the generation of which often contributes significant CO2 emissions, a key contributor to climate change.

SolutionDr. Novak and her team designed a system that breaks down the high energy compounds in a cheap and efficient manner. The modular, customizable system utilizes chemical bacteria to break down the high energy compounds into the functional byproducts hydrogen and methane. Hydrogen and methane can then be captured for use as fuel.

Impact: This new process should reduce the cost and carbon footprint of wastewater treatment. The system also generates hydrogen and methane, which can be used as a fuel source. Currently installed at Minneapolis’ Fulton Brewery, the system has the potential to be installed at other breweries, dairies, and food manufacturers – thereby offering these benefits more broadly.

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