State-of-the-art technologies created from brewing residues

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Advanced technologies created from brewing residues

The spent grain, this residue of cereals from breweries, has been revalued in animal feed for a few years.

Brewing residues can be transformed into infinitely small crystals that are used in the manufacture of advanced technologies, have found researchers from the National Institute for Scientific Research (INRS) and the École de technologie supérieure.< /p>

Called quantum dots, these crystals are actually nanocrystals that measure only a few billionths of a meter (one nanometer is one billionth of a meter).

Normally produced from heavy metals and pollutants such as cadmium and lead, these quantum dots could instead be produced from spent grains, this cereal residue from breweries which, in recent years, has been reused in food. animal.

Quantum dots are used, among other things, in the emission and absorption of light, for example as sensors in biomedicine or as LEDs in computer screens. new generation. South Korean giant Samsung, in particular, is devoting vast resources to synthesizing quantum dots for use in its phones.

It could also be used for applications that are a little less technologically and commercially mature, such as solar technologies, i.e. absorbing light to convert it into another form of light. energy, explained Professor Federico Rosei, from INRS.

It could be electricity, where it can be used to break up water molecules and separate hydrogen from oxygen. And then the hydrogen can be used as a clean fuel.

Already used in the manufacture of cattle feed, brewing residues have technological attributes hitherto unsuspected.

Pr Rosei and his colleagues showed this spring, in an article published in the journal RSC Advances of the Royal Society of Chemistry , that it is possible to produce carbon quantum dots with the means at hand.

They used a home microwave oven to carbonize the spent grains, creating a black powder which was then mixed with distilled water and returned to the microwave. Centrifuge and advanced filtration steps resulted in the quantum dots.

The finished product is able to detect and quantify heavy metals, as well than other contaminants that affect water, the environment and health.

We can modulate the properties of quantum dots by changing their size, morphology and composition, said Professor Rosei.

Quantum dots that have the best performances, he continues, unfortunately contain heavy metals whose use is far from desirable from an environmental point of view. We therefore sought to replace them with non-toxic and, ideally, very abundant elements.

The draff contains elements such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, which will contribute to the efficiency of the obtained quantum dots. Previous work had shown that quantum dots obtained from carbon are interesting for capturing sunlight and transforming it into another form of energy.

This project was completed thanks to the collaboration of the microbrewery Brasseur de Montréal, which provided its cereal residues. The researchers are not now ruling out contacting a larger brewery that might be interested in this technological breakthrough.

The basic principle is to #x27;trying to recover waste, said Professor Rosei.

But hey, from there to conclude that the more beer you drink, the more you will help our hospitals to acquire the state-of-the-art equipment they need, there is definitely a step to keep you from taking.

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