Posting in Energy
Breweries are utilizing biomass leftover from beer production as an energy source.
The process of brewing beer dates back to prehistory – long before the advent of mass production and corporate sustainability initiatives.
Nowadays, brewers are compelled to be environmentally responsible, and are inventing ways to transform spent grains into clean energy.
The Associated Press today published a report examining how different breweries are recovering energy that was previously wasted during and after the brewing process. Here’s an overview of its findings.
- Vermont’s Magic Hat Brewing Co. has installed a system (more properly known as a Biphase Orbicular Biodigester) to extract leftover barley, hops, wastewater and yeast into an anaerobic methane digester that produces natural gas.
- Anheuser-Busch is capturing heat that’s generated during the brewing process to de-ice its loading dock during foul weather.
- Coors’ sells its ethanol byproducts to refineries throughout Colorado.
- Some European breweries dry biomass for burning, to provide energy and heat that will brew more beer.
I came across some additional examples after a quick Web search, including the installation of biomass heat and power plants to make Scottish and Newcastle’s UK breweries energy self-sufficient. As well as a proposal to exploit the energy potential of brewers’ spent grains in Nigeria.
Could beer brewers set an example for sustainable industry? There's only one way to find out. Prost!
Feb 15, 2011
Spent grain bread is excellent but only uses a tiny portion when brewing at a rate of 10 gal/month and baking at 2 loaves/week. The rest I put in a worm composter using red worms. --DCM
As a home brewer these options are pretty much out of reach, the best I've been able to come up with is freezing measured portions of the spent grain and then using it to make 'spent grain' breads. OK, so it doesn't actually save energy - but it is a great way to use the spent grain... jh
And let's not forget about Weeping Radish brewery in North Carolina that grows their own barley and hops and uses the remains for fertilizer to grow *MORE* barley and hops! By doing this, they reduce their carbon footprint by not having these items shipped to their brewery!
Not to take away from this article, but there are brewers like Lucky Labrador Brewing Company in Oregon which uses Solar Thermal Collectors on their roof top. The system circulates water and Propylene glycol through a closed loop, which is heated by the Solar collectors, then returns it to the storage tank, releasing the heat and warming the brewing water. The Lucky Labrador uses a lot of hot water to make beer therefore this technology is best suited for their reduction of energy consumption.
Microbrewery recycle, renew, reuse challenges are often harder due to the lack of economy of scale. At Quay Street Brewing Company (http://www.quaybrewing.com a microbrewery & restaurant in Michigan), used grain management includes: donating left-over grain to local farmers as a feed supplement, the formulation/production of a high fiber treat/snack for dogs "Brewer Bones." The grain has also been used in soil treatments and composting. All great ways to change "waste" to "use" and avoid senseless expansion of garbage/land-fills.