Brewery converts beer waste into ethanol fuel

  • Chicago (IL) - Next time you enjoy a microbrew you might find it even a little more tasty knowing the discarded beer yeast used to make it helps with the creation of eco-friendly fuels. That's the idea, anyhow, behind a partnership between an ethanol gas company and a California brewery.

    E-Fuel, a maker of home ethanol systems, and Sierra Nevada, a microbrewery in northern California, have teamed enabling the beer maker to produce its own ethanol from waste products in its brewing process. It will use E-Fuel's Efuel 100 MicroFueler to take 1.6 million gallons of unusable "bottom of the barrel" beer yeast waste, containing 5% to 8% alcohol content, so it can raise the alcohol level to 15 percent. This increased ethanol yield, minus water removed in the process, will become the fuel.

    Testing will begin with this new system in the second quarter of this year, with a goal of achieving full-scale ethanol production in the third quarter. "We are excited to partner with E-Fuel to develop an efficient way to recover waste ethanol from our spent yeast," said Ken Grossman, Founder and President, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. "This has the potential to be a great thing for the environment and further our commitment to be becoming more energy independent."

    E-Fuel Corporation was founded in March 2007 by Tom Quinn and ethanol scientist Floyd Butterfield and his privately held. Quinn has solely funded the company, with more than 30 people employed in Los Gatos and Paso Robles, California and China.