5 Energy Efficiency Tips for Breweries

The brewing industry has experienced massive growth in recent years, here in the UK.  At the top end, the big brewery concerns have done well, but that has also been matched by the exponential growth of smaller and even micro-breweries, as the interest in real ale grows. The brewery process includes many stages, from mashing to boiling to fermenting, using many types of equipment, from pumps, to boilers, to refrigeration.  And that all means a lot of energy is expended, and in this current market that means money, when at the other end of the process, the actual cost of a pint at the bar can already be rather steep.  However to help, we have included a five-point plan of some areas you might consider for energy savings:

1) Heat Recovery

In terms of the actual brewing process (already an art form, of course) there might be scope for savings, and for boxing a little clever when it comes to efficiency.  For instance, with the wort boiler you may be able to capture, or recover, the escaping heat, and reuse it.  Energy consumption is around 44-46 kBTU/barrel for conventional systems and you may be able to capture and reuse some of that heat when boiling. Firstly, check if a heat capture system is already installed - usually around the steam outlet - which you can link to a heat exchange.  Then, condensed vapour can be reused for other processes, such as heating or cleaning. Also consider installing a condensate recovery system.  Firstly check whether the brewery currently runs such a system (in which case a line will run to a condensate tank).  If not, talk to the facilities staff about installing one, which may well create significant savings, whether gas or electricity.

2) Insulate Hot Lines

Check all your hot lines, which might typically include condensate return lines, hot water lines and steam lines.  Check the temperature of these lines and whether they are insulated.   If not, get all lines insulated, which will save huge amounts of wasted energy, especially if they are being electrically heated.

3)Pump System

All breweries will need to pump liquids through the various processes needed to brew in batches, using either mobile pumps that can be moved to where they’re needed, or permanent versions. This is where much of the energy requirement is expended.  Firstly, always use the most efficient pump for the scale of the brewery.  Either ask a staff member to check you have the right pump for the job, or else do it yourself, checking the specs in terms of flow rate, pressure and the pump curve.  It may even be that the scale of the brewery has changed since the pump system was installed and that it is now either too powerful, or weak, for the job.  Either way, savings can be made on your electric bill.  So check the specs and the system conditions and ensure it’s the right one for the scale of the brewery. You might also look to use an on-off, rather than a throttle, control for the pump.   An on-off control is much more efficient than simply limiting the flow of the pump, and can be more effective in managing flow around the varied processes of the brewery.  Also, consider installing VFD control.

4) Refrigeration

As well as heating, exact cooling is also an important part of the brewing process, to keep the beer at a precise temperature and allow the yeast to do it glorious thing.  To cool the beer as it ferments, breweries deploy jacketed tanks, or chiller units, using glycol to manage the cooling. So if you use chillers, or jacketed tanks, there are also ways that savings might be made.  The main way to do this is, once again, to more precisely control temperature.  You may look, for instance, to separately control the fans and the compressors, to improve efficiency.  You might also reduce lift across the compressors by adjusting suction and discharge set-points.  Firstly, check the suction and discharge pressure.  You may find efficiencies in your electricity usage here, in terms of lowering lift in the compressors, if suction is either set too low; or conversely, is set higher than the condensing temperature required. So look to implement control schemes to manage these processes more effectively.  Perhaps you might consider installing a dedicated control unit, if not already installed, to handle the compressors and condensing fans.

5) Pre-cool wort

A simple one, this, but it could be key.  The wort boiler heats the wort, as you will know.  However, you may find you are able to cool the wort prior to adding it to the fermentation tank.  If you are really energy efficient, you could even manage this cooling using previously recycled cool water from other parts of the brewing process, which will improve energy efficiency in terms of the need for refrigeration, ultimately saving your energy needs. So, follow these simple ideas and you will be well on your way to making significant energy savings, all of which will contribute to your bottom line, and the future health of your brewery.  Bottoms up!

Published by Utility Helpline on (modified )