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Waste Not, Wine Not

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Converting winemaking waste into ethanol or other biofuels

Australian researchers have given us more reasons to love wine. Using science they have found ways to eliminate landfill bound by-products of the winemaking process while turning the waste into useful material.

Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne researchers have found a way to use four different fungi to break the leftovers of the winemaking process into simple compounds that could in turn be converted into ethanol or other biofuels. Nearly half of the grapes used in the winemaking process turns into waste. This includes skins, stems, seeds, pulp and stalks. This waste goes to the landfill.

In beer brewing, brewers have found ways to use nearly all waste products to make everything from bread to soap to dog biscuits. Most breweries give their spent grains to farmers for feed or to other outsiders in order to put the leftovers to good use. Winemaking has not proved to be as ecologically friendly.

The researchers are using a four fungi mix that generates enzymes which are then used to break down the waste into simple sugars that can be used both in industry and medicine.

Currently the process is only being tested in the school’s laboratory but researches are considering bringing the process to an industrial scale if there is enough interest.

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