The brewing power plant

Anyone familiar with Krones or who has recently read the blog attentively will know what enviro is. All newcomers will find in my last blog posting an overview of Krones’ sustainability programme. As promised, I’ve meanwhile interviewed my colleague Dr. Ralph Schneid on an absolute highlight in terms of energy-efficiency: Brewnomic, previously known as the Brewery of the Future.

The name Brewnomic stands for an energy-self-sufficient brewery – what’s the basic principle behind it?

In breweries, energetically valuable residual materials are produced – such as malt flour, spent grains, yeast and wastewater, which can be converted into methane in a biogas system. A unit-type cogeneration plant then converts this methane into heat and electricity, thus supplying the entire brewery, including all the requisite peripherals. A brewery that is structured on the Brewnomic principle can even sell its excess heat and power to external consumers. So de facto we have implemented a brewing power station.

Krones has long since been installing the EquiTherm energy recirculation system at its clients’ facilities. To what degree is Brewnomic the logical progression of this approach?

Brewnomic is indeed the logical progression of Steinecker’s brewing process technology solutions – and thus, of course, of EquiTherm and the low-temperature brewery as well. In Steinecker’s own facility, the issue of energy- and resource-economy has for a long time now been accorded top priority, as evidenced by numerous prizes and accolades. Now we’ve combined all our products in a single system, and also borne the big picture in mind. In conjunction with innovations from the fields of filling and packaging technology (keyword: warm filling), we’ve thus succeeded in achieving energetic autonomy. Close collaboration with other specialist departments at Krones has also led to some patent applications.

For what output range is the concept an attractive option?

Basically, the output range is immaterial – but the bigger the brewery, the quicker the investment will pay off. The great thing about Brewnomic, though, is that it is composed of numerous small jigsaw pieces which can also be retrofitted in existing facilities. Thus it’s repeatedly possible to implement an innovation in order to reduce CO2 emissions and cut operating costs.

Has the concept already been implemented by one of Krones’ clients?

No. There are many breweries that have implemented part of the solution. But at the moment there isn’t a complete version up and running yet. Due not least to the fact that development work on a few components has not yet been finalised.

At the drinktec 2017, Brewnomic was for the first time showcased on a large scale – back then still under the name of “Brewery of the Future”. What developments have there been since then?

The feedback was extremely favourable – the concept was well received everywhere, from small and mid-tier breweries all the way through to the big conglomerates. And we already have a specific project where a complete Brewnomic brewery is being offered. In addition, at the dena congress in Berlin we won the Public Prize of the Energy Efficiency Award, a welcome confirmation that we’re on the right track with our development work.

If a brewery decides to implement the Brewnomic concept in its entirety, what specifically will change for the brewer in terms of his work?

There will be only one change, but a very major one: if the concept of the energy-self-sufficient, CO2-neutral brewery is to succeed, the brewery concerned will have to run its production operation seven days a week. This has long since become quite normal in many of the world’s countries, but elsewhere we can expect the euphoria to be less than total. Automation and work schedules can alleviate the situation, but completely free Sundays are not going to be an option.

In conclusion, a look into the future: does this solution show where the journey is heading overall?

Brewnomic shows what’s possible. Ultimately, our clients and we as consumers will decide what’s going to happen. But I believe everyone has meanwhile realised that we can’t continue to exploit our natural resources the way we’ve been doing so far.