Brewing engineers from the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) in Germany are working hard to literally make a 'green' beer, which during brewing, would allow energy savings of up to 20 percent.
The engineers are trying to improve the energy balance of the amber beverage.
They are looking into a new process combination that would allow energy savings of up to 20 percent during brewing.
This technology, however, has proven to be unsuitable for breweries: CHP (combined heat and power) stations do indeed generate heat in addition to power, but only achieve temperatures up 90 degrees centigrade.
Boiling down "crude beer," or wort, requires at least 110 degrees centigrade.
To remedy this deficit, engineers from the Institute for Resource and Energy Technology at the TU Muenchen have been following a hot trail since August 2008: They have combined the CHP station with a so-called "zeolite storage system."
Such storage systems work thermo-chemically with zeolite spheres 2-3 mm in diameter. These porous pellets are made of silicate minerals and have excellent heat storage properties.
One gram of zeolite has an internal surface of about 500 square meters.
The pores absorb water to full saturation.
When zeolite is heated, the spheres dry up - the storage system is charged. Once water is added again, the zeolite spheres release heat of up to 250 degrees centigrade.
The brewing engineers at the TUM want to take advantage of this thermo-chemical principle to add on the missing 20 degrees to the 90 degrees centigrade from the CHP station of the brewery.
To this end, they intend to use an empty time slot in the production process.
"At night a medium-sized brewery needs little energy," said project leader Dr. Winfried Russ. "In this time, we can feed unused heat from the CHP station into the zeolite storage system," he added.
During the day, when high temperatures are required to boil the wort, additional heat can be fed into the overall system almost instantaneously with the "heat boosting" press of a button.
This places resource-efficient, low-energy beer within drinkable reach.