According to the Alaska Journal of Commerce, Alaskan Brewing Company is making an unprecedented commitment to renewable energy. The Juneau-based company has entered the final stages of commissioning and testing a steam boiler fueled entirely by the company’s own spent grain. The new boiler will be used in the brewery’s grain drying process and also to create hot water for the brewery. Spent grain used to dry spent grain. It is not perpetual motion, but it is close.
If you have ever witnessed firsthand the commercial brewing process then you know that it takes a lot of water, especially hot water, to operate a brewery. Whether a brewery uses electricity, natural gas or oil, heating water is a significant part of any brewery’s energy usage. That’s part of this energy saving equation.
Also, if you have ever witnessed firsthand the commercial brewing process then you know that beer is not the only byproduct. At the end of the brew day, spent grain is plentiful, wet and heavy. Our local brewers enjoy the luxury of disposing of spent grain by gifting it to local farmers eager to use it as feed for their pigs, chickens and cows. Alaskan Brewing Company, on the other hand, disposes of its grain by drying it and shipping it south to the lower 48.
Alaskan Brewing Company’s new system promises to reduce oil usage and corresponding carbon emissions by more than 70 percent. That translates into a savings of nearly 1.5 million gallons of oil over the next 10 years. The new boiler will also supply more than half of the hot water needed at the brewery.
The magic behind all of this is the fuel created from the spent grain. Basically, they are creating a new kind of fuel and using it to fire a new kind of boiler. According to the brewery, nobody has ever burned this kind of fuel before.
That’s the story in a nutshell. There’s a lot more to it. Read more about this project at the Alaska Journal of Commerce website.