It’s like manna from Heaven: Tests are set to begin on a new refining process that will turn leftover beer sludge into ethanol.
The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in California has teamed up with E-Fuel, the company behind the EFuel100 Home Ethanol System, to test the possibility of using the portable ethanol refineries to convert throw-away beer yeast into ethanol fuel. Sierra Nevada cranks out 1.6 million gallons of “bottom of the barrel” waste, which is currently sells to local farmers as a nutritional supplement for cows.
The EFuel100 operates by mixing and fermenting water and sugar into ethanol, which is mixed into gasoline at a rate of ten percent to create E10, or “gasohol,” a partially oxygenated fuel that produces less pollution than pure gasoline. Sierra Nevada will begin using the ethanol in company vehicles, while future surpluses will go to employees and be distributed via E-Fuel.
Ethanol is growing in popularity as an additive and a stand-alone fuel; many U.S. states mandate some form of alcohol/gasoline blending and “FlexFuel” vehicles, designed to run on E85 ethanol/gasoline mixtures are becoming increasingly common. Brazil, Russia and China already have extensive ethanol programs in use.
But the important thing here, of course, is that all of this can be done with beer. With roots reaching back through the milennia, beer is truly a universal miracle. From keeping ancient Egyptian slaves docile to powering the cars of the future, is there anything beer can’t do?