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A More Meaningful Brew

Being green (and we don't mean adding dye to our beer) 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

 

In honor of that great beer holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, we wanted to update you on some truly green improvements we’ve made at the brewery this past year.  Our Chief Operating Officer, Tom Thomasser, gives us the rundown:

Bottling Line Rinse Water Reclamation:

We just finalized and put into operation a complete system built in-house that captures all of the water from our internal bottle rinser. The water is collected and diverted into a stainless steel reservoir that includes a couple float switches and a submersible pump. When we start bottling in the morning the system starts collecting the water until there is a sufficient amount to then use this water in our external bottle rinsing operation. Once the tank has sufficient water the system automatically switches a valve from city water to reclaimed water, and starts the pump. The water is then pumped through a filter to remove any fine particles and then travels through the pipe to the external rinsing station.

As part of this project we also did some PLC programming to actually start and stop the water going into both rinser operations based on actual bottle present conditions. This will control waste as well as guarantee that each rinser has water flowing whenever necessary.

Here is the good news: we collected before and after water usage data on both operations and calculated this against production numbers. When we first started this project we were using approximately 4 gallons per case in total between both rinsing stations. With the addition of the control valves we dropped the number to approximately 1.4 gallons per case. With the addition of the reclamation system we are using about .7 gallons per case. This reflects about 85% reduction in water use per case. This should save around 2.7 million gallons of water annually.

A bottle getting rinsed with reclaimed water, NOT new city waterAir Compressor Replacement:

We recently replaced our 100hp single speed air compressor with a 15hp multi stage compressor and a 100hp variable speed compressor. The old unit ran 24/7 to meet the needs of production and also the afterhours needs of the water heating plant. The new system will utilize the 15hp unit during all non-packaging times and the 100hp unit will subsidize our needs for packaging.

Additionally we will be diverting the hot air from the compressor to the production areas in the winter months as supplemental heat, reducing our demand for the natural gas currently used to heat these areas. In the summer months this heat will be exhausted outside to reduce the energy used to cool the production areas.

Xcel energy awarded us a Custom Rebate for this project and calculated a minimum annual reduction in energy use of 120,000 KW.  This project has additional savings not yet calculated with a reduction in maintenance costs associated with run time.

Our mechanic Zac giving a thumbs up to the new air compressor.Brewhouse Glass Wall/ Heat Recovery Project:

We are just completing a project that includes the installation of a glass separation wall between the Brewhouse and the Ratskeller. This project includes some additional ductwork and building automation controls to divert heat from the Brewhouse to the outside in the summer and to the Ratskeller during the winter. Currently all the heat that dissipates off the kettles ends up in the Ratskeller. This heat load dramatically increases our electric usage to cool this space during the summer. We are getting a benefit of this heat reducing our natural gas use in the winter and this project has provisions to keep this benefit going forward. Basically this system will have 2 modes, summer and winter. In summer mode the Brewhouse will bring in filtered outside air and dispel the hot air to the outside. In the winter mode the Brewhouse will take in room temperature air from the Ratskeller and dispel the heat into the return air system in the Ratskeller.

This project has year round savings estimated by Xcel energy engineers of approximately 200,000 KWH and 6000 therms of natural gas. Nearly $20,000.00 per year in cost reduction.

Installation of the Brewhouse glass wall.Past Projects:

All Light Fixtures in the production area were replaced with high efficiency fluorescent lighting. Motion detectors were installed in all areas not continuously occupied.

Boiler controls were replaced to improve the efficiency of the process boiler.

Land filled waste was reduced by over 200,000 lbs annually with a joint effort with a local company that produces non-corn based feeds for poultry and swine.

We installed a bailer for all of our stretch wrap; this keeps this waste out of the landfill and reduces our monthly trash bill.

Cheers!
Tom Thomasser


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