Engineers at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) are developing a new process to reduce energy consumption by up to 20 per cent when brewing beer.
According to the group, combined heat and power (CHP) stations have been considered in the brewing process but have proven to be unsuitable as they can only achieve temperatures of up to 90°C, whereas boiling crude beer requires temperatures of between 110°C and 160°C. The energy-intensive process amounts to 45 per cent of the total energy consumption of a traditional brewery.
In an attempt to reduce the energy used, the team at TUM has combined the CHP station with a zeolite storage system that claims to increase the CHP temperature range by 20°C.
The system works thermo-chemically with zeolite porous pellets that are 2-3mm in diameter. These pellets are made of silicate minerals that have high heat storage and water absorption properties. When zeolite is heated, the spheres dry up and once water is added again, the zeolite spheres release heat of up to 250°C.
Project leader, Dr Winfried Russ, said: ‘At night, a medium-sized brewery needs little energy. In this time we can feed unused heat from the CHP station into the zeolite storage system.’
When additional heat is needed, the researchers believe that it can be fed in almost instantaneously to provide a more energy-efficient system.
The team has demonstrated the production chain in computer simulations and are currently undertaking practical trials at a test station in Weihenstephan. The researchers hope to model the energy balance of an entire brewery by the middle of 2011.