Did you know that beer waste can generate electricity? The energy generated is also sustainable. The Beer city of Michigan Grand Rapids, USA, is using technology which converts beer waste to electricity in a bid to step up its plan for sustainable energy.
The city has constructed a 3.2 km long pipeline in the city’s Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF). This pipeline carried the discharge of beer waste from a beer brewery (Founders Brewing) to WRRF. Once the waste reaches the WRRF, it is held in a tank until midnight. Waste from a diner (Founders dinner) is also collected in the tank. An estimated amount of 530,000 litres is collected daily. The collected waste is then transported to a biodigester.
How does a Biodigester Work?
A biodigester is like a mechanical stomach. It takes in organic material and breaks them down in an oxygen-free (anaerobic) environment to produce a renewable energy called Biogas. It also produces other materials that can be used and fertilizer.
To break down the beer waste, the biodigester heats the waste at 98 degrees for 2 weeks. The heating kills the pathogens in the waste. The waste is then sent to another tank where microorganisms are added to break down the organic matter in the waste. This helps reduce the amount of waste and produce biogas. The biogas is collected, filtered and used to produce electricity from a generator. The biodigester can produce an average of 15GW of energy per year.
The WRRF system requires almost 23GW per year for its operation. By 2023, the city aims to run WRRF system with 100% renewable energy. The city is working to achieve this goal by installing more biodigesters around the city. The city expects the biodigester project to reduce operation cost by 20% and producing electricity savings of $600,000.
Founders Brewing Co, was the first customer and the digestion of beer waste proved to be successful in phase 1 of the project. Impressed with the result, another company (SET environmental) has come forward to use the pipelines in phase 2. Over the next few years, other customers will be added to the pipeline to collect more waste for the conversion and energy generation.
The biodigester and pipeline system will help the Beer city to convert most of their organic waste to electricity. This system will help the city achieve 100% renewable energy in the nearest future.