GEA unveils water-saving technology for non-alcoholic beer production

Sep 07, 2022 — A technical solution to reduce fresh water consumption in non-alcoholic beer production processes will save up to 66% to 100% water. This, according to GEA, is an important step towards freshwater neutrality in production processes and will solve the problem of limited availability of deoxygenated water that many breweries face.

Filtration technology uses special polymer membranes to separate alcohol and water from other ingredients, saving water.

Reverse osmosis technology allows for a cleaner separation of water and alcohol from the “crucial” ingredients that give beer aroma, color and turbidity.

“Our latest filtration system combines the trend towards 0.0% beer with the goal of reducing water consumption in production,” explains Ralf Scheibner, filtration expert at GEA.

Tapping into by-products
The company reports that the system not only saves fresh water, but also uses the remaining alcohol (from dealcoholization or diafiltration) as a valuable by-product.

“Due to its lower volume, it has a higher alcohol content and can thus be used as a base for alcoholic mixed drinks and trendy drinks, such as seltzer water, or can be reused. Filtration technology uses special polymer membranes to separate alcohol and water from other ingredients. within the brewery itself”, explains the company.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that breweries whose production facilities offered the flexibility to process other beverages have coped better with falling demand,” Scheibner points out.

Originally designed for the dealcoholization of beer down to 0%, the system is also used for other non-alcoholic beverages, such as cider at 0%.

GEA explains how the growing demand for non-alcoholic beer “was a beacon of hope in the pandemic period of low sales”, as new buyers replaced some of the lost consumers.

Pressure not heat
The specially developed reverse osmosis membrane is highly selective for ethanol, allowing brewers to filter alcohol at lower temperatures. This saves time, saves energy and preserves flavor – allowing breweries to skip the step of restoring flavor after alcohol removal.

“Membrane filtration is now on the fast track as the gentlest dealcoholization technology,” the company points out. The technology focuses on pressure, not heat, when filtering alcohol.

Boon without alcohol
Avoiding and reducing alcohol is quickly becoming the norm for a growing minority of global consumers. While this trend is seen across all age groups, it’s most evident among Gen Z drinkers, with up to a third of drinkers between the ages of 18 and 25 reporting never consuming alcohol, according to a new report from Innova Market Insights.

This trend is reflected in the business activities of international beer brewers, such as Kirin Holdings, which expects to reach 209.5 million sold cases of soft drinks in 2022, a 2% increase year-on-year. last.

Companies are also racing towards carbon-neutral non-alcoholic beer. With Australian beer brand XXXX eyeing 2025 as the year it will use 100% renewable electricity in its manufacturing.

Governments might not be as pleased as corporations with the 0.0% increase in alcohol consumption, as countries like Japan see significantly lower revenues from liquor taxes.

By Marc Cervera

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