From Beer to Biofuel

A brewery in England has started stirring up more than beer.

Photo courtesy of Urban75.org (http://www.urban75.org/photos/suffolk/southwold-signs.html)

Are American breweries behind? Maybe they should hop on board the trend to become energy independent behind leader Adnams Southwold, an English microbrewery!

The brewery has created the first plant of its kind to produce biomethane from its beer production waste. Adnams Southwold has partnered with the Bio Group, a renewable energy company that is helping them transform their beer-brewing waste into biomethane through a process called anaerobic digestion.

This is the first plant to send biomethane to utilities. About 60 percent of the renewable gas will be pumped to utilities, according to the Adnams' website, while the rest is used to power the brewery and run its delivery trucks.

Adnams currently dilutes 40 tons of water daily, which ends up down the drain. Using anaerobic digestion, a process which extracts gas from the beer waste, the company will save water and energy. Local food waste will also be transformed into the gas at the plant. The organic waste is broken down by naturally occurring bacteria within sealed vessels in the presence of no oxygen.

Adnams says the plant will provide enough energy to power 235 homes per year!

If this trend caught on, the benefits could be huge!

Fun fact: The average home uses 20,500 kilowatt hours of gas per year. On a national scale, the UK would produce enough energy to heat 47,000 homes if the waste from the daily national beer consumption, 28 million pints of beer per day, was transformed to biofuel.

Methane will also be diverted from landfills to the plant for transformation to energy, reducing the amount released into the atmosphere. The United States releases an estimated 208 million tons per year, according to the EPA. American breweries need to get to bio-fueling, and quick!

Adnams Southwold has also gone green in other ways.

To create a stable temperature in the warehouse, Adnams has:

* lime and hemp walls
* an airlock system
* a two-acre green roof (The benefits of a green roof on a smaller scale can be seen here, in a video I produced with fellow student Lauren Hoenmeyer about the George Washington University's green roof in Washington D.C.).

Adnams also:

* uses solar panels
* collects rainwater
* uses a reduced bottle size

Adnams says these features cause them to use 54 percent less gas and 67 percent less electricity than a conventionally designed warehouse.

Come on American beer producers, Adnams is showing you up! Environmentally conscious beer lovers may start importing their beer from England!

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