Your brewery and the environment - a holistic partnership

Try to imagine if the products coming out of your brewery were not just quality beer, but also clean water, electricity and gas! In some communities, successful breweries already have a positive impact on their environment providing jobs, teaching technical skills, investing profits back into the community, and supporting local projects.

21. Sep 2009

What if your brewery – alongside the beer – created a much more tangible benefit by providing energy and water to the local community networks? A brewery designed to be a net producer rather than a user of natural resources.

Imagine if we had such a good understanding of the hydrological cycle, mapping of surface water and groundwater resources and hydrological modelling that the brewery could supply water to the local towns and treat the output in such a way that the only water used would be the water converted into beer, i.e. one hectolitre of water gives one hectolitre of beer.

Imagine if we could take all of the by-products and effluent streams and convert them into energy, i.e. electrical power, by using bioelectrical systems, combusting spent grains to combined heat and power (CHP), converting other organic waste into biogas from an anaerobic bio-reaction, etc. etc.

Imagine if the brewery was considered a “beauty spot” or an environmental attraction. After all, the core process of brewing is fermentation, utilizing yeast to make beer, why not use other microbes to convert other by-products into useful fuel and water sources for the community.

Ultimately economics will determine the feasibility of such systems, but the technology is already there:

  1. Spent grains have been used as an energy source in biomass systems, but the economics of this process are ultimately decided by the price of spent grains on the market for cattle food.
  2. Production of electricity in bio-electrochemical systems (BES) is already technically developed and just needs to be to be implemented into an industrial application.
  3. Waste water treatment can with bioreactors produce biogas, which can be used either direct in boilers or in CHP production.
  4. Waste water can already be treated to achieve drinking water quality, and this process is widely used in many countries.
  5. Sludge from the waste water treatment of brewery waste water can be utilized as soil improver and fertilizer.
  6. With solar panels to gather heat for the brewery it is possible to generate heat from water at 120 degrees C.
  7. Heat pumps are available to heat to 120 degrees C which will make them ideal for example for tunnel pasteurization.
  8. Energy from external sources with the smallest CO2 footprint will greatly influence the brewery’s environmental impact, becoming a transformer of energy rather than a major user of energy.

In the future, we expect to not just be measuring consumption and efficiency, but to be part of a productive symbiotic relationship where we utilize our resources, not just waste them. At ALECTIA, who is now merged with NIRAS, our specialists in energy, water, brewing and utilities have years of practical experience working with brewery, dairy, food and water management.

Our position as a totally independent consultant with extensive experience of brewery project management will provide you with a unique perspective and a partnership with no other agenda than to provide you with the optimal, environmental solution.