A brewery located in Australia has partnered with local climate scientists to design a pathway to lower their environmental footprint. Their new technology utilizes bioreactors and algae to lower their co2 emissions and even produce oxygen as a by-product.
With the growing threat of climate change creeping up on society, many individuals have begun to feel uneasy. While some are at a loss for what to do, others are using this time to make innovative designs out of unlikely sources with the hopes that it can help to lower emissions.
One unique example of this comes from Young Henry’s, a craft brewery located in Sydney, Australia. The brewery has partnered with local climate scientists to utilize microalgae to capture carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen.
This approach is truly one that stands out amongst the others and can potentially encourage others to start brainstorming how they can cut their own environmental footprint.
The process is inspired by the fermenting process of brewing beer. Beer begins its life as a mix of grains and water. When mixed with the fungi, brewer’s yeast, the starches and sugars are “eaten,” leaving both alcohol and co2 as by-products. Depending on how many grains, water, and yeast you add to the mixture, you yield a different type of beer. It isn’t uncommon for modern-day breweries to look into some sort of sustainable initiatives to help lower their environmental footprint. However, Young Henry’s has taken this one step further to truly revolutionize the industry as we know it.
After capturing the co2 from the beer mixture, Young Henry’s pushes it through to a bioreactor where it will come into contact with the microalgae. A bioreactor is a machine used to grow certain organisms under controlled conditions. In this case, the microalgae in the reactor will “eat” the co2 and create more algae and oxygen as by-products. Young Henry’s estimates that their setup produces nearly 5 acres of bushland worth of oxygen.
One of the by-products of this process, algae, can be used in a variety of ways. From capturing more co2 to bioplastics, energy, and even food, it provides even more room for innovation and outstanding design for the brewery.
Though impressive, Young Henry’s isn’t the first brewery to try and tackle the carbon dioxide by-product of beer making. A startup located in Texas, USA, called Earthly Labs, designed a carbon capture machine that can recycle captured co2 during the brewing process. This by-product can then be used to carbonize beer or be sold to other facilities for use. Amy George, the founder and ECO of Earthly Labs, said, "Our original vision: Breweries capture their waste and reuse it, save money and, in the process, save the planet,"
Since the beginning of 2020, Earthly Labs has had over 100 inquiries from brewers wanting to install CiCi’s into their facility. The company also just completed a major milestone with its pilot project located in Colorado. Working with Denver Beer, Earthly Labs’ product was able to capture the equivalent of 93 trees worth of carbon dioxide, and then provide that to The Clinic, a cannabis company that utilized the co2 to stimulate plant growth.
Further, Blindman Brewing, located in Alberta, Canada, is also looking to lower its co2 emissions. The business is the first of its kind in the country to capture co2 and use it to carbonize their beer. The co-founder, Kirk Zembal says, "We're probably going to capture about 100 metric tons of CO2 … there's 1,100 other craft breweries in Canada, 7,000 or 8,000 in the States, and tens of thousands more around the world. If we can all adopt equipment like this, well now we're making a big impact."
Beer making is just one of the many industries that emit greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Though it is not an area that many think about when this topic arises, every little bit counts, and working to find remediation techniques to lower carbon emission will ultimately aid in a healthier and thriving planet.
With businesses such as Young Henry’s, Earthly Labs’, and Blindman Brewing taking the initiative to incorporate unique designs into their sustainability goals, we can expect these stories will inspire even more, take on similar projects and tackle other challenges that plague the industry. Lowering waste, providing safe and fairly compensated work conditions, giving back to local communities, and various other avenues of exploration can help to make the industry far more sustainable than it has ever been.