Turning water into wine is said to be a miracle, but how about turning wine (or at least wine waste) into hydrogen? Penn State University’s Dr. Bruce Logan is working with a Napa Valley winery (the Napa Wine Company) to turn their wine pulp and waste water in hydrogen.
According to Dr. Logan, a single Napa winery can use 10,000 to 12,000 gallons of water a year at a cost of $100,000 in water to process wine waste. So, in an effort to help wineries become more sustainable, Dr. Logan has set up a small scale organic matter hydrolysis plant onsite.
Bacteria that grow along some special brushes placed in the wastewater create electrical current. Hydrogen gas is also created as a byproduct of this bacterial process and can be used to run the wine waste water system via fuel cell.
Dr. Logan says that it would take 1/10th of the energy in the waste water pond to run the equipment that powers the treatment. The extra hydrogen could be used to power farm equipment, industrial equipment, the winery’s facilities or even be sold for use in hydrogen cars and other H2 vehicles.
Now, I’ve heard of solar wineries before as a way to help the winemakers become more green and sustainable. Adding hydrogen power to the green energy mix would be another additional step that wineries could take to reduce their carbon footprint, be sustainable and produce environmentally friendly wine start to finish.
Turing water into wine may still be a miracle, but turning wine waste water into hydrogen on a large scale is just a few years away.