Agrivoltaic setups aren’t new to regular readers of this site as we’ve seen many times that certain crops benefit from the shade solar panels provide; and, the solar panels benefit the farmers by producing clean energy. Now we know that hops, which flavour beer, thrive under solar panels. A German experiment with a special solar setup for hops has proven more successful than expected since the hops fared better against disease.
Which crops thrive under solar panels depends on many factors, and for a crop like hops a default solar field setup is not a good one. Hops like to grow straight up which means that the solar panels need to be elevated high off the ground. The hops then grow up to the solar panels and get lots of benefit from the cooling effects of the panels themselves.
The pilot project — a collaboration between Wimmer and local solar technology company Hallertauer Handelshaus — was set up in the fall of last year. The electricity made at this farm can power around 250 households, and the hops get shade they’ll need more often as climate change turbocharges summer heat.
Solar panels atop crops has been gaining traction in recent years as incentives and demand for clean energy skyrocket. Researchers look into making the best use of agricultural land, and farmers seek ways to shield their crops from blistering heat, keep in moisture and potentially increase yields. The team in Germany says its effort is the first agrivoltaic project that’s solely focused on hops, but projects have sprouted around the world in several countries for a variety of grains, fruits and vegetables.
Barley, like many other plants, faces worse growing conditions thanks to the ongoing climate crisis. Also like other plants, researchers are looking into ways to help the plant survive unpredictable weather changes. Biologists in Japan have modified the barley plant to survive early flooding which will help farmers get a good price for their crop while also ensuring we have a reliable source of a key ingredient for beer.?
The researchers are ecstatic to have hit gold in their plant biotechnology endeavor. Dr. Hisano exclaims, “We could successfully produce mutant barley that was resistant to pre-harvest sprouting, using the CRISPR/Cas9 technology. Also, our study has not only clarified the roles of qsd1 and qsd2 in grain germination or dormancy, but has also established that qsd2 plays a more significant role.”
Overall, this study serves as a milestone for present and future crop improvement research, using efficient gene manipulation like that offered by CRISPR/Cas9. The researchers are hopeful that they may be able to solve the food and environmental problems that human beings are currently facing worldwide, using their enhanced biotechnology techniques.
They aren’t just for transporting a yummy beverage, beer cans can be used to create passive heating too. A simple contraption that you can make in your spare time can save you heating costs and help reduce your carbon footprint. A beer can heating system, like the one in the video above, is just a series of cans in a row painted black out in the sun under a casing. The dark cans heat up from the sun and move air through them using basic convection.
A DIY beer can heating system is perfect for a shed, garage, or even using it augment your home’s existing heating system.
The concept is relatively simple. The aluminum cans have both of their ends cut off and are fashioned into a series of long metal tubes, painted black. With a fan at one end, and some fins cut into the tubes slowing down the airflow, the metal is positioned in a way to get heated by the sun as the warm air is pulled into the building.
Thirteen years later, the same old beer cans are still chugging along, helping keep the space warm and heating bills low – about $300 annually, McLauchlin estimates.
“It’s -22 C right now and my furnace didn’t come on today,” he said over the phone in early December.
Swinkels Family Brewers in the Netherlands recently adopted a new way to heat their brewing process: melted iron. And it’s arguably sustainable. It’s not as weird as it sounds.
Essentially iron dust is set alight, which burns in a contained system and produces heat (which is used to hear water in the brewery). Once burnt, the iron basically becomes rust, which then can be turned back into usable iron using electricity. If electricity is sustainably produced then the whole system is carbon neutral.
If burning metal powder as fuel sounds strange, the next part of the process will be even more surprising. That rust can be regenerated straight back into iron powder with the application of electricity, and if you do this using solar, wind or other zero-carbon power generation systems, you end up with a totally carbon-free cycle. The iron acts as a kind of clean battery for combustion processes, charging up via one of a number of means including electrolysis, and discharging in flames and heat.
As a burnable clean energy storage medium, iron powder’s advantages include the fact that it’s cheap and abundant, the fact that it’s easy to transport and has a good energy density, its high burning temperature of up to 1,800 Â°C (3,272 Â°F), and the fact that (unlike hydrogen, for example) it doesn’t need to be cryogenically cooled, or lose any energy during long periods of storage.
Waste water is a headache to deal with since it’s a complex soup of bacteria and other tiny elements which vary day to day. When a brewery puts its waste into the sewage system it can really mess things up for the facilities cleaning waste water since the chemical balance changes so drastically. A town in Montana decided to work with their local brewery to turn that negative impact into a positive one and it worked like a charm!
If you home-brew beer you should dump your leftovers from the brewing process on your garden. It’s great for the plants and, trust me, it works.
Because it’s rich in yeast, hops and sugar, brewery waste can throw off the microbes that wastewater treatment plants rely on to remove nitrogen and phosphorus. The two nutrients can cause algae blooms in rivers and kill off fish.
“But if we can use [brewery waste] correctly and put it in the right spot, it’s very beneficial to the process,” engineering consultant Coralynn Revis says.
Revis led a pilot project here last summer to try to do just that. Bozeman worked with a local brewery to feed its beer waste to the treatment plant’s bacteria at just the right time in just the right dosage.
“This is super-simplified, but like, if they’re eating their french fries, they need a little ketchup with it. So to get the nitrate out, you dose a little carbon, and the bugs are happier,” Revis explained.