CQUniversity Australia and the Bundaberg Rum Distillery have welcomed a scholar from Zimbabwe' set to research efficiencies in the rum fermentation process.
Tinashe Mangwanda recently arrived in Bundaberg and commenced his research program at the distillery following a lengthy COVID travel delay.
As part of the program Mr Mangwanda will work alongside industry professionals from the distillery as well as supervisors from CQUniversity as part of a joint university and industry research program.
Mr Mangwanda was selected as the successful research scholar and will complete a two-year Master of Research as part of CQUniversity's Elevate Scholarship program.
The Elevate research scholarship program has been designed to provide industry partners with opportunities to leverage research expertise and resources to solve issues and problems' and to optimise their business operations through inquiry and research.
As part of his research Mr Mangwanda will analyse the fermentation process and test process improvements that will lead to operational efficiencies' without compromising the famous taste of the iconic beverage.
Mr Mangwanda has undergraduate qualifications in Applied Biology and Biochemistry from the National University of Science and Technology Zimbabwe and has also worked as a brewer for Delta Beverages Sorghum Beer Manufacturing Zimbabwe' prior to joining CQUniversity.
He said he was excited to finally be in Bundaberg and to work alongside the highly experienced distillers at one of the world's most well-known rum distilleries.
"Bundaberg Rum is one of the best-known beverage brands in Australia and around the world' so it is very exciting for me to finally be here to learn about their processes and to identify ways for the distillery to improve efficiencies.
"I have always had a strong interest in science and my previous experiences have allowed me to apply my scientific knowledge to the brewing process.
"I have developed a really strong interest in brewing and because of this I feel really honoured to be here in Australia working with some of the best in the industry'" said Mr Mangwanda.
"I hope that outputs from my research can make a valuable contribution to the ongoing operations of the Bundaberg Rum Distillery."
Bundaberg Rum governance and compliance manager Tyryn McKeown said the Elevate scholarship program was an innovative approach that will allow the distillery to test and implement best practice processes while also improving operational efficiencies' in the fermentation process' especially when it comes to batch consistency' energy usage and waste reduction.
"Bundaberg Rum saw an opportunity to partner with CQUniversity on an Elevate research scholarship whereby we could utilise the skills and knowledge of a suitable postgraduate student to support the distillery's continuous improvement program' specifically in relation to the rum fermentation process' while at the same time giving the student valuable' real-world industry experience'" Mr McKeown said.
Mr McKeown also said improvements in the distillery's ethanol yield from the molasses fermentation process could result in substantial savings and waste reduction.
"We have identified yeast health and microbial control as the most likely factors that impact fermentation efficiency but prior to the opportunity to engage a dedicated researcher' we lacked resources to investigate potential methods for improving fermentation yield and consistency'" said Mr McKeown.
"There is also an opportunity to improve the consistency of fermentation efficiency between different batches of molasses.
"As such' we are interested in understanding and identifying process efficiency improvements to optimise the production of Bundaberg Rum without affecting the taste profile of the finished product.
"Tinashe will be responsible for investigating all of these processes and developing a set of research findings that we can hopefully implement to improve the overall processes at the distillery.
"This is the first time we have engaged in a dedicated research scholarship program' and we were impressed with the high calibre of the candidates who applied.
"Tinashe's background in biology and biochemistry as well as his experience in the brewing industry certainly made him stand out."
Principal Research Supervisor and Senior Lecturer in Chemistry' Dr Mani Naiker from CQUniversity said that the Elevate Research Scholarship program was a beneficial way for the industry to gain knowledge and expertise' while also helping a new generation of researchers to work on real-world problem-solving projects with major industry partners.
"The project is beneficial for the industry as it allows them to work with CQUniversity to co-fund a research program that aims to deliver their business with important knowledge related to different operational challenges.
"It is also a great opportunity for postgraduate researchers to work with industry leaders and to gain in-depth insight' experience and knowledge'" said Dr Naiker.