Brewing up power
The Alaskan Brewing Company has fired up its new steam boiler, fueled by malt waste left over from the brewing process. They hope to cut use of oil, and carbon emissions, by 70%, saving nearly 1.5 million gallons of oil, and millions of dollars, over the next decade.
This is the latest in a series of steps the company has taken toward greater sustainability since 1995, when they installed a grain dryer. This allowed them to ship spent grain south for cattle feed. About half of this byproduct was used as a fuel source to heat the dryer itself, allowing them to learn how to burn grain effectively. In 2008, the brewery installed a $1.7 million mash filter press to produce a finer grain with less moisture, making it a better fuel source. This inspired them to invest in the boiler which would convert all of the waste to energy.
“If you look at the value of a spent grain as a fuel in terms of the energy content in it versus its value just as a waste material, it goes from a net value of $30 a ton up to $350 a ton,” said brewing operations manager Brandon Smith.
“We have the privilege of handcrafting award-winning beer in one of the most majestic locations on Earth, but it also brings special considerations and responsibilities in the way we brew” says Co-founder Geoff Larson. “We find that both challenging and extremely rewarding.” The company has adopted a set of sustainability principles to help guide its operations.
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