This year’s Brewers Association Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) & Brew Expo America featured a presentation about an anaerobic digester system coordinated by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF).
Jim Kuhr, brewmaster and director of brewery operations at the at the F.X. Matt Brewing Company, outlined the process and benefits of the system that removes 80 percent of the organics from the Utica brewery’s wastewater and generates up to 40 percent of the facility’s electricity.
Matt’s brewing process creates wastewater from cleaning out brewing vessels and aging vats daily. That wastewater is saturated with organic materials. Similar to what happens in the brewing vats, where yeast eat sugars to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide; bacteria in the digester tanks eat the remaining alcohol, sugars and other organics to produce methane gas, which is burned to produce electricity. Anaerobic digestion can be used to reduce the emission of landfill gas into the atmosphere. SUNY-ESF is using the digester as a case study for students.
In another learning opportunity, the brewery is working with SUNY-ESF to green-scape the area surrounding the digester. Potential environmentally friendly plans include the addition of grass, trees, shrubbery and hops, as well as the use of special porous concrete for increased water absorption which will help with the storm water runoff in the city.
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