According tomedia, according to Queen’s University Belfast, EU breweries handle about 3.4 million tonnes (3.084 million metric tons) of discarded barley grain each year. That could change for a long time, however, as scientists at the university have developed a way to convert the waste into useful charcoal.
Under Dr. Ahmed Osman’s leadership, the researchers designed a process that begins with grain drying — followed by the chemical phase and the heat treatment phase. In the latter two phases, the researchers washed it with phosphoric acid and potassium hydroxide — both chemicals, notably, which were low-cost.
After the above process, the researchers were given activated carbon, which can be used in home heating fuels, barbecue coal balls or water filters. In laboratory tests, 1 kilogram of grain was enough to produce enough carbon to cover “100 football fields”.
The technology could also be used to make carbon nanotubes that can be used to make better batteries, transistors and even artificial muscles.
The researchers hope the technology will not only help reduce the amount of waste food but also boost local economic development in the brewery’s area.
“Typically, liquid carbon is shipped from the Middle East to the UK, while solid biochar is shipped from the US and elsewhere in the form of a charcoal ball,” says Osman. With this new technology, we can use more local production resources and reduce emissions associated with agriculture, and we are also creating a high-value product. “
The research paper is now published in Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology.