A cool, freshly drawn beer – for many a person this is the greatest of pleasures. But, in fact, a bad conscience should haunt us when we drink beer as it is among the most energy-intensive foodstuffs during production. Brewing engineers from the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) are working hard to improve the energy balance of the amber beverage.
They are looking into a new process combination that would allow energy savings of up to 20% during brewing. The Weihenstephan scientists will be exhibiting the heart of their energy-saving idea at the drinktec trade fair in Munich (14 – 19 September).
For over one hundred years one fundamental technical precept has applied to all breweries: You can't brew beer without a kettle. Only a mighty boil kettle is capable of generating the temperatures of 110 to 160 degrees centigrade required to boil down "crude beer," the so-called wort. This process consumes substantial amounts of energy: Almost half of the overall energy consumption of a classical brewery – 45 percent, to be exact – goes into wort processing. That is why engineers have been working on solutions to reduce heat and electricity consumption in brewing for years now.
One approach was to use combined heat and power (CHP) stations, which are highly energy efficient and environmentally friendly due their cogeneration of power and heat. This technology, however, has proven to be unsuitable for breweries: CHP stations do indeed generate heat in addition to power, but only achieve temperatures up 90 degrees centigrade. Boiling down wort requires at least 110 degrees centigrade. To remedy this deficit, engineers from the Institute for Resource and Energy Technology at the TU Muenchen have been following a hot trail since August 2008: They have combined the CHP station with a so-called "zeolite storage system."
Such storage systems work thermo-chemically with zeolite spheres 2-3 mm in diameter. These porous pellets are made of silicate minerals and have excellent heat storage properties. One gram of zeolite has an internal surface of about 500 square meters. The pores absorb water to full saturation. When zeolite is heated, the spheres dry up – the storage system is charged. Once water is added again, the zeolite spheres release heat of up to 250 degrees centigrade. The brewing engineers at the TUM want to take advantage of this thermo-chemical principle to add on the missing 20 degrees to the 90 degrees centigrade from the CHP station of the brewery.
To this end, they intend to use an empty time slot in the production process. "At night a medium-sized brewery needs little energy," says project leader Dr. Winfried Russ. "In this time we can feed unused heat from the CHP station into the zeolite storage system." During the day, when high temperatures are required to boil the wort, additional heat can be fed into the overall system almost instantaneously with the "heat boosting" press of a button. This places resource-efficient, low-energy beer within drinkable reach.
The newly combined production chain works perfectly already in computer simulations, and practical tests are just getting under way. Researchers from the TU Muenchen, in collaboration with colleagues from the RWTH Aachen, have now, for the first time, set up a test station at Weihenstephan that uses the new equipment combination to simulate brewery processes. Winfried Russ is eager to see the results: "We already know that it will work. What we don't know is just how much energy can be saved." The researchers are counting on at least ten percent.
In a second step, the TUM engineers intend to model the energy balance of an entire brewery. The cleaning system, the brewing facilities, the fermenting room and storage cellar, as well as the bottling facilities will all be heated at only 90 degrees centigrade instead of using steam of up to 160 degrees. The researchers are counting on this, taken together with the additional waste heat utilization, to result in energy savings of altogether 20 percent. "This is more than the total savings from all energy efficiency measures taken in the brewing industry during the last ten years," according to Russ. The experiment will have run its course by mid-2011. Both small and medium-sized breweries are eagerly awaiting the results: Potential takers are already showing interest in the pilot project that will follow.
It is reasonable to expect that in a few years we will be drinking real "energy-efficient beer" – and enjoying it with a green conscience. The underlying technology will be on display at the drinktec 2009 trade fair from 14 to 19 September, where the Weihenstephan researchers from the TU Muenchen will exhibit a model of the zeolite storage system. Please do visit us in hall A4 at the New Munich Trade Fair Centre in Riem, Booth 335, every day between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.Contact:
Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) is one of Europe's leading universities. It has roughly 420 professors, 6,500 academic and non-academic staff (including those at the university hospital "Rechts der Isar"), and 23,000 students. It focuses on the engineering sciences, natural sciences, life sciences, medicine, and economic sciences. After winning numerous awards, it was selected as an "Elite University" in 2006 by the Science Council (Wissenschaftsrat) and the German Research Foundation (DFG). The university's global network includes an outpost in Singapore. TUM is dedicated to the ideal of a top-level research based entrepreneurial university.
Patrick Regan | EurekAlert!
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
23.03.2017 | Life Sciences
23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences