Foster's is giving consumers a better reason to drink the Australian lager. The beermaker is teaming up with scientists to generate clean energy from the wastewater the brewery creates. The process uses sugar-consuming bacteria, and a complex device gathers chemical energy that the bacteria releases and then converts the energy to electricity. Wastewater may be soon used in the United States in similar fashion.

The bacteria contribute chemical energy to a fuel cell—basically, a battery—installed by Australia’s University of Queensland. The university received $115,000 from the state government as a grant to install the microbial 660-gallon fuel cell at a Foster’s brewery.

The cell will produce 2 kilowatts of power and is planned to begin running in September 2007. Foster’s plans to install similar systems other breweries and wineries it owns.

According to Professor Jurg Keller, the university’s wastewater expert, the battery produces electricity plus clean water. “Brewery wastewater is a particularly good source because it is very biodegradable … and is highly concentrated, which does help in improving the performance of the cell.”    EC