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Beer and Algae?

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

There are numerous new and innovative methods for fighting climate change, as this example piloted by Young Henrys brewery in Australia further demonstrates.

The word algae in close proximity to the word beer would normally send drinkers off to another brewery with a shout of 'no thanks' - or, more likely, something containing one or more expletives.

Despite the obvious inherent risk of verbal abuse, Young Henrys is fighting climate change by including an unusual ingredient in their beer-making process: algae. The fermentation of beer releases large amounts of CO2 so, in order to address this issue, the brewery started working with the University of Technology Sydney to experiment with an innovative algae tank to absorb their emissions.

And discovered, as a happy by-product, that the process also produces as much oxygen as two and a half acres of wilderness.

The brewery's system involves two bioreactors to cultivate algae. Both contain CO2, oxygen, and algae, but one serves as a control and one is connected to a fermentation tank so produced CO2 flows into it. The second tank consistently contains 50 percent fewer algae, proving that the experimental bioreactor is consuming the harmful greenhouse gas. 

With a successful proof of concept, hopefully it will catch the attention of other brewers, and Young Henrys and its partners in Sydney are now working to make the technology scalable for larger manufacturers.

It takes a tree around 48 hours to absorb the CO2 released from producing one six-pack of beer, but incorporating easily-maintained algae systems into breweries is a cost-effective solution for in-house emission reductions that can even help breweries achieve carbon neutrality.

Let's drink to that!

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