Is Beer Power The Next Alternative Energy Solution?
Can you imagine filling your car up at a local brewery, pouring beer into your gas tank, and driving around town? No doubt the air would be less toxic in your town, and how nice everything would smell. Every time you filled up you could bring a nice cold glass for yourself, of course.....
Beer fuel has not been approved as an alternative to gasoline in your cars - not yet - but it is being used for alternative energy.
In Europe, where there are 15 breweries per square kilometer (it seems that way.), beer waste has become a significant problem. Grains leftover from the beer making process constitute this waste, and in the past these grains were sold to farmers for their livestock or made into fertilizer. But now, with reductions in cattle breeding and stricter EU regulations about what can be contained in fertilizer, breweries are disposing their grains as waste.
Wolfgang Bengel, a scientist and entrepreneur, saw a future in these grains; he could use the bio-waste to create steam and bio-gas which, in turn, could provide energy for the breweries to produce beer. Technical director at Germany's BMP Biomasse Projekt, Bengel had already converted the residue from rice and sugar cane into energy in China and Thailand with atmospheric fluidized bed combustion systems,
Though Bengel thought the boiling process might be similar for the beer grains, these grains posed new challenges, as they could not be used unless dried immediately. Another issue was that EU regulations on combustion had become very stringent.
It took several years for Bengel and his partner companies to come up with a solution that, in the end, is a combined process of making beer and converting the used grain, rather that a stand-alone operation. Beer power is well worth the grain-to-fuel conversion method; it re-captures 50 percent of the energy used to make the beer.
Okay. You can have my beer grains, but don't mess with my brew!