Factory manager finds waste from beer production can be used to make wastewater treatment cheaper

Brewery managers need to know their chemistry. Understanding how to handle the brewing and fermentation process is crucial in crafting a liquid that people will crave and ask for at the bar.

Photo by Gerrie van der Walt on Unsplash

Managers of wastewater treatment facilities also need to know their chemistry; but although they also process yellowish brown liquids, their target end product is clean water which will not cause algae blooms or kill marine life. To turn wastewater into something that can be safely dumped into a river, treatment plants use a chemical called alum (aluminum sulfate solution) to break down suspended solids and remove excess nutrients, including phosphorus, dirty water.

Several years ago in Havre, MT, sewage plant manager Drue Newfield determined that barley would react with microbes in the wastewater in such a way that it performed the same task as alum. . Because Havre is a small town (10,000 people), Newfield couldn’t miss that there was a popular microbrewery, Triple Dog Brewing Co., just two miles from the factory.

Triple Dog Brewing Co.

Newfield led his idea through brewery owner Michael Garrity, who was happy to donate leftover barley – a byproduct of his brewing process and therefore waste – to the factory. “With my knowledge of brewing and fermentation, I said, ‘Why don’t we do this? It sounds amazing,’” Garrity said. NPR.

Triple Dog Brewing Co.

With no existing guidelines to follow, Newfield spent two years patiently experimenting with depleted barley, adding doses of varying sizes to the wastewater and measuring the results. Finally, last year he succeeded. “Bacteria love it, that’s what I found, and it goes away in the end,” Newfield says.

The end result: the establishment’s alum bill – some $ 16,000 a year – no longer exists. In three years, Newfield saved the plant $ 48,000, and while he doesn’t go into details, he also mentions that using barley helped the plant avoid an upgrade. costing “millions”.

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Depleted barley is free, with the exception of the two mile freight charge. Ultimately, that closeness could be the key to making it all work. NPR reports that four hours west, the town of Bozeman wastewater treatment plant duplicated Newfield’s process in a pilot project. However, they are unable to make the process permanent; officials found that “the logistics of transporting liquid waste from the brewery there are too expensive at the moment.”

Wondering why, I looked up the Bozeman Water Harvesting Facility on a map and saw that there were 10 breweries within a five mile radius, one of which was just a mile away:

I don’t know what the real hurdle is – maybe the labor and transportation costs are much higher in Bozeman? Either way, I hope the recovery facility manager and some of the local brewery owners get together, drink beers, and understand.

Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash

via NPR

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