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January 27, 2016

Penn students create concept to speed up beer fermentation process

The technique maintains alcohol quality and composition at an industrial scale, which could lead to substantial cost reductions

Technology Innovation
Beer File Art /for PhillyVoice


Students at the University of Pennsylvania have created a technique that vastly speeds up the process of beer fermentation while maintaining alcohol quality and composition.

According to a press release issued by the University of Pennsylvania, the students, Alexander David, Shashwata Narain and Siddharth Shah, who are enrolled in Penn’s Wharton School and School of Engineering and Applied Science, submitted a proposal for their concept in Penn's fourth annual Y-Prize Competition, and they won.

Their grand-prize win includes $10,000, in addition to the rights to commercialize their application of the Penn-owned biomedical engineering technology.

As the press release notes, the technique uses what's called microfluidic fabrication technology to accelerate the rate at which yeast converts sugar to alcohol by 70 percent, which would presumably lead to substantial cost reductions at the industrial production level.

“This process typically takes up to three weeks in a standard batch reactor setting, making it the longest step in the $520 billion global industry's production process."

The students have also entered their winning idea in the Wharton Business Plan Competition. Their advisers have included executives at MillerCoors, Anheuser Busch InBev, Biocon India and Heineken, according to the release.

Read the full press release here.