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Beer Power

Learn how scientists are recycling brewery waste to create energy.

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Photo: Landfeldt (flickr)

Beer breweries are learning how to use waste to create energy

There’s nothing like a cold beer on a hot, sunny day.

And in our energy conscious world, that brew is even better if it were made using fuel recycled from brewery waste.

That’s exactly what a team of German scientists is up to.

Waste Into Energy

The brewing process results in piles of used grain. Beer makers have to get rid of the waste somehow–either by selling it to farmers as feed or fertilizer, or in some cases paying a waste management company to do the job. And that can get expensive.

So the German scientists thought of a third option–recycling the spent grain and wastewater as fuel. Using bacteria to break down the material, the scientists produced methane gas and an organic sludge.

Gas and sludge are then burned to boil water and make steam, which spins a turbine to create electricity–electricity used to brew more beer.

Would This Ever Work In The Real World?

So would this recycling process work on a large industrial scale?

The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, California thinks so. They’ve been converting waste into energy on a commercial scale with great success. And if one brewer saves money by being more energy efficient, others may follow.

Which means that, soon, the ice cold brew you enjoy after work wouldn’t just taste great–it could also be helping reduce our collective carbon footprint.

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