By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — What if brewers could speed-up the fermentation of beer?  A trio of Penn students believe they’ve discovered a way to do that.

The idea won Penn’s $10,00 Y-prize.  It uses Penn-owned technology to combine microdroplets of sugar liquids and yeast in precisely controlled quantities to maximize the efficiency of fermentation.  That could shorten a three-week brewing process to one week.  The prize includes the rights to commercialize the application, and Wharton student Siddarth Shah of winning Team Fermento says the big beer makers have been calling.

“So actually, we have had traction with certain large beer companies as well,” said Shah.

“We are all beer lovers in some way or another.  And so, being able to apply a new technology to better this kind of process is not just a big thing for the beer industry, but also the larger food processing industry as a whole,” said Wharton student Shashwata Narain.

Engineering student Alexander David also helped to develop the concept.