Gizmorama - September 4, 2017
Nothing is better than more beer. Scientists in Singapore agree and have taken to brewing waste into nutrients for fresh yeast. How about another round?
Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.
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*--- Scientists turn brewing waste into fresh yeast to make more beer ---*
What's better than beer? More beer, of course. It's a motto scientists in Singapore have taken to heart.
Researchers at Nanyang Technological University have found a way to turn brewing waste into nutrients for feeding yeast. That yeast can be used to brew -- you guessed it -- more beer.
Yeast is essential to fermentation, the conversion of grain sugars into alcohol. Meanwhile, the brewing process produces a significant amount of waste.
By using waste to produce more of an essential ingredient, researchers at NTU have managed to make the brewing process significantly more efficient.
"We have developed a way to use food-grade microorganisms to convert the spent grains into basic nutrients that can be easily consumed by yeast," William Chen, a food scientist at NTU, said in a news release. "About 85 percent of the waste in brewing beer can now be turned into a valuable resource, helping breweries to reduce waste and production cost while becoming more self-sustainable."
Food-grade microbes could ultimately help scientists integrate waste-to-nutrient conversion technologies into other food and beverage production processes.
Spent grains left over from the brewing process are stripped of their essential nutrients. What's left is lignin. It is tough and largely unusable. But microbes can help break down lignin's tough fibers into smaller, more nutritious fragments. These fragments can be mashed into a liquid and fed to yeast.
Researchers described the process in the journal AMB Express.
*-- Scientists tie flexible crystals into knots --*
Researchers in Australia have grown bendable crystals strong enough to be tied in knots. Scientists are now considering how the flexible single crystals can be incorporated in new technologies and commercial applications.
"Crystals are something we work with a lot -- they're typically grown in small blocks, are hard and brittle, and when struck or bent they crack or shatter," John McMurtrie, a professor of science and engineering at the Queensland University of Technology, said in a news release. "While it has previously been observed that some crystals could bend, this is the first study to examine the process in detail. We found that the crystals exhibit traditional characteristics of not only hard matter, but soft matter like nylon."
McMurtrie and his colleagues grew crystals from a copper acetylacetonate, a common metal compound. The crystals formed a thread-like shape measuring some 20 micrometers across.
Researchers used X-ray imaging to observe atomic behavior as the crystals were bent and unbent. Their analysis suggests the crystal's atoms are able to reorganize after being bent without suffering structural damage.
"Under strain the molecules in the crystal reversibly rotate and reorganize to allow the compression and expansion required for elasticity and still maintain the integrity of the crystal structure," said Jack Clegg, a professor of chemistry at the University of Queensland.
Researchers detailed the crystals and their potential in a paper published this week in the journal Nature Chemistry.
"Flexible crystals like these could lead to new hybrid materials for numerous applications, from components of planes and spacecraft to parts of motion or pressure sensors and electronic devices," Clegg said.
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