How Algae Can Make Brewing More Environmentally Friendly
Posted on December 15, 2021 by Cedarstone Industry Team
Imagine standing in a brewery and admiring large rooms filled with impressive stainless-steel tanks. Over in the corner is a tank you have never seen before. It is not just any tank, it’s a bioreactor filled with algae. Before you have time to ask, an observant brewery owner comes over and explains that the tank has made its operation more environmentally friendly.
Just what do algae have to do with brewing quality beer? And how does it make the brewing process more environmentally friendly? It is about reducing a brewery’s carbon footprint. According to an Australian brewery now utilizing the system, they could knock down their entire operation, plant trees, and still not accomplish the same thing as the algae living in their new stainless-steel tanks.
Exchanging Carbon Dioxide for Oxygen
Most living organisms that breathe oxygen exhale carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Plantlife does just the opposite as part of the process of photosynthesis. They absorb carbon dioxide and return oxygen to the air. But as carbon levels increase, some say we are headed for trouble if we don’t figure out how to improve carbon sequestration.
Beer breweries produce their fair share of carbon dioxide during the fermenting process. Their stainless-steel tanks filled with fermenting hops produce carbon dioxide that has to be absorbed by plant life. Apparently, the amount of carbon produced by the hops necessary to make a single six-pack of beer takes a tree up to two days to absorb.
Algae Works Much Faster
So what has the Australian brewery done? They have figured out a way to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen more quickly and efficiently using algae. The brewery worked with Sydney’s University of Technology to create two bioreactors filled with algae. As carbon dioxide is emitted from fermentation tanks, it is pumped into the bioreactors.
Algae in the bioreactors actually feed on carbon dioxide. As they reproduce, they transform the CO2 into oxygen, which can be vented from the tanks. Each bioreactor holds just over 105 gallons of algae solution. Each one allegedly generates as much oxygen as about five acres of the Australian bush.
The primary benefit of utilizing algae to handle carbon sequestration is that it works so much faster. The algae don’t have to absorb carbon dioxide in the same way plants do. Moreover, conversion takes place as a normal part of algae reproduction. The faster they reproduce the more gas is converted.
Reducing Carbon Emissions
The result of utilizing algae to accomplish carbon sequestration is reducing carbon emissions. That may not be something you ever thought of in relation to brewing beer. After all, brewing is a pretty natural process. You are just combining natural ingredients in such a way as to create fermentation. But even natural processes produce carbon.
Whether or not the process is cost-effective remains to be seen. Obviously, a brewery would have to invest in new stainless-steel tanks set up as bioreactors to make it all work. Energy would also be needed to operate the bioreactors. It would be interesting to see a cost breakdown in order to fully understand whether or not the solution is economically viable.
At any rate, we will continue manufacturing and selling stainless-steel tanks for craft breweries and big-time operations alike. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need any new equipment for your brewery. From separate fermentation and brite tanks to state-of-the-art unitanks, we have everything you need to keep your operation running smoothly. Feel free to browse our website for a better understanding of our inventory.