Gunter Pauli's Eco-Brewery in Namibia

Gunter Pauli's resume probably looks something like this: "Social entrepreneur, 40, graduate of INSEAD, spent several years as a lecturer and consultant for IBM, created the Zero Emissions Research Initiative, wrote eight management books and is fluent in six languages." He is pushing for zero-emissions, closed-loop systems and his Namibia brewery, one of his many projects (see this page for some), is a good example of that. It is based on the principle that "in natural systems, there is no such thing as waste. Everything that’s excreted, exhaled, or exhausted from one organism is used by another."Namibia Breweries had decided to construct a sorghum brewery in Tsumeb, a five-hour drive north of Windhoek, the capital city; the question was, could the zero-emissions concept be applied in the desert? Funded by the United Nations University, George Chan undertook a field visit in the summer of 1995 and concluded that it was not only feasible, it was necessary.

Less than 18 months later, on January 31, 1997, the first phase of the project was inaugurated by Namibian President Sam Nujoma.

The system, engineered and built under the supervision of George Chan, is the result of extensive research and design over the Internet. Teams of scientists from all parts of the world worked together in cyberspace to figure out how to make best use of the spent grain, the alkaline waste water, and the CO2 gases that make up 98 percent of the waste from the brewery. The solutions they developed turn all waste into products that are particularly valuable in a country that lacks water, food, and cash.

The Namibian brewery will produce a total of 12 products in addition to beer. This integrated biosystem will produce seven times more food, fuel, and fertilizer than a conventional operation and four times as many jobs.



Water flows from the brewery into ponds designed for fish farming. Mushrooms grow on piles of spent grain from the fermentation process. Chickens feed on earthworms set loose in the grain. Etc, etc.

See these article for more details on the workings of the brewery: one and two.

Thanks to reader Paul for pointing us to this story in the comments of our post on New Belgium Brewing!

:: Green Machine, ::ZERI