There's a lot that breweries can do—and are doing—to green their facilities. Some are easy, anyone-can-do-this steps like sending spent grains to local farmers. Others are innovative tricks that no one else has tried before. New Belgium probably gets the most attention (not unfairly—it's truly a leader for sustainable beer) for identifying waste and turning it into a resource. But it's not the only one. Magic Hat is now capturing wasted energy from the spent grains and turning it right back around to fuel the brewing process.It's an on-site closed-loop recycling system that uses an anaerobic methane digester (officially called the Biphase Orbicular Biodigester™ System, or BOB) that was developed by PurposeEnergy. It's thought to be the first of its kind in the world.
Magic Hat Brewing installed the system last year. It produces 200 cubic feet of biogas per minute, gas that is then used to fuel the brewing process—which anyone familiar with it knows is rather energy-intensive.
PurposeEnergy estimates the system can save brewers up to $2 per barrel in costs. (That adds up quickly for companies that produce hundreds of thousands of barrels a year.)
AP quotes Steve Hill, social networking manager for the parent company of Magic Hat, who summarizes the benefits of the system: "There's a lot of money to be saved, there's a lot of strain to be taken off local wastewater systems. The carbon footprint of a brewery is lessened a great deal when there's a power company in their backyard."
And it's not like they weren't trying before—Hill said, again from AP, "Over the years, we looked at ways of reducing it, and the strain on South Burlington's system, and we came up with ideas ranging from using women's pantyhose to filter solids while flushing the brew kettle to having the spent grains hauled off to a local farm to be used for feed."
Looks like it's PurposeEnergy to the rescue. The company slogan is "Saving the earth, one beer at a time," and they're trying. The CEO said, "I hope to be in large breweries throughout the world."