The largest inefficiency within a brewery may be that of CO2 utilization. About 80 percent of the cost of CO2 is in shipping and transportation, which makes all of the wasted CO2 in the fermentation process kind of annoying (fermentation produces about three times the amount of CO2 needed for carbonization and packaging).
According to the Missoulian, Lolo Peak Brewery is about to add a carbon-dioxide-recycling process to carbonate and serve its beer, which is expected to provide cost savings of 30 percent and and emission reduction up to 90 percent. Lolo Peak, while it’s the first brewery in Montana to add such a system, is far from the first, but it is definitely one of the smallest breweries to add in such a system. The reason is Missoula-based COBrew, the company building the recycling system.
COBrew founder Taylor Woods said some larger breweries, including Alaskan and Sierra Nevada, utilize similar technology to capture their CO2, but COBrew’s system is tailored toward small- to medium-sized breweries.
The COBrew technology captures the gas coming out of the 600 gallon fermentation containers, filters it to food-grade CO2, and stores it in tanks to be used for carbonation and pressurizing kegs on tap.
More on COBrew
This Lolo Peak system is somewhat of a case study for both the brewery and the system provider, and after a few months of tinkering, COBrew will be making the technology available to other similarly sized breweries. The two companies hosted an event last night for other brewery owners to check out the system and try the beer that it helped produce. For those interested, here are some details on the system from the COBrew website:
COBrew technology has autonomous control systems that ensure full automation of the system, real-time balancing and monitoring and single action startup. Other attributes include:
- Compact foot print
- Easy integration into existing brewing infrastructure
- Long maintenance intervals
- Quick filter replacements
- Single or multiple fermenter capacity
- Less than 75dB in full operation
- Weatherproof paneling available
- Integration with VaporBulk Storage Platform and autonomous controls
- Minimal power draw
- Fully sealed
- Food grade stainless steel and associated components