New South Wales, News, Research & Reports, Technology, Waste & Resource Recovery

Sydney students turn brewery wastewater into energy

Australian start up switch2 Engineering has developed a technology that can convert brewery wastewater into hydrogen, a clean burning fuel. By doing so, breweries are able to repurpose the hydrogen as a fuel for heating, transportation and electricity. Using this technology, breweries can not only save costs on utility bills, but do so sustainably, according to the founders.

The company’s electrolyser technology uses organic-rich brewery wastewater and renewable energy as the feed input to produce hydrogen. Compared to conventional electrolysis that uses pure-water to produce hydrogen, the system is able to replicate the same chemical reaction using a resource that is a cost-centre to most breweries, therefore creating value from a low-value waste stream. The electrolyser works by passing an electric current through a catalyst, which then splits the water to form hydrogen on one side, and break down organics on the other.

switcH2 was founded by Khushal Polepalle, Constantine Tsounis and Bijil Subhash in 2019 as a spin-off from the Particles and Catalysis Research Group at UNSW by three chemical engineers with diverse backgrounds spanning fundamental research, scale-up engineering, financial services, and strategy consulting. Together, the team decided tackle some of the biggest issues facing the planet including energy, and industrial waste. By combining fundamental switcH2 technology with a sustainable business model and industry incentives, they hope to transform the brewery industry into a sustainable and clean energy powerhouse, by utilising beer waste, and converting it into clean burning hydrogen fuel.