Alaskan Brewing Co. Serves Beer-Powered Beer
Hydrogen, biomass and biofuels are usually the first things that come in mind when the word “fuel-based” green energy comes up.
However this story brings up a rather unusual type of alternative green energy. Beer, as we know today, may not just be the beverage of revelry, as it could also be a power source, to make even more beer.
The Alaskan Brewing Co. has recently made a decision to use their beer’s spent grain on their breweries as fuel to power the breweries themselves. They have already purchased a special boiler system that would burn the spent grain to generate heat required to produce steam for generating power. That’s right; it wouldn’t exactly be like pouring beer as if its crude oil, but it can still be technically considered as “beer-powered”.
The decision to use the spent grain as a source of energy was made due to the statistical impracticality involving the previous method of sending the spent grain off to farms as feeds. With the brewery’s growth by the end of the 20th century, they could no longer completely dispose of the spent grain. They had to resort to exporting the grain to the lower states, which incurred significant costs due to the energy required to dry the grains, along with export fees involved.
The concept of using spent grain in beer breweries as fuel isn’t new, but the application usually involves simply using it as a co-fuel in an energy recovery system. It generally serves as an extra source that would provide additional energy for the facility to use. This is the first time that the spent grain will be used solely as the primary power source of an entire facility.
The Alaskan Brewing Co. spent $1.8 million in order to purchase the special furnace that would burn the spent grains. A North Dakota-based company was chosen for the energy project, after it was awarded a grant of $500,000 by the federal Rural Energy for America Program. They expect the spent grain steam boiler to be fully operational in just about a month. As it would be used as a main energy source, they are expecting big savings out of the project, and they even estimate that it would help them save $450,000 in energy costs every year.
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