Central Alberta brewery adopts new technology to reduce greenhouse gasses, save thousands of dollars

RED DEER — A brewery in Lacombe is planning to adopt a new carbon dioxide (CO2) capturing technology that will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

When Blindman Brewing co-founder Shane Groendahl, along with his four partners, first opened the brewery in 2015, they had a vision.

“From the beginning, our initiative was to be as eco-friendly as possible at the brewery and to do the right things by the environment as we best can,” Groendahl said.

Last month, the brewery installed 180 solar panels on its roof. Now, the owners are looking to capture CO2, created in the process of making beer, and reuse it.

“We’re trying to make sure that we’re using the electricity and the resources that we have as best as we can, as most efficient as we can, and that’s part of what this CO2 recapture program is all about,” he said.

During the brewing process, brewers take a grain, like malted barley, and extract the sugars from it into a liquid solution called wort. The wort, in other words, is unfermented beer.

“Then, we’ll add yeast to it, and that yeast chews on that sugar and simply spits out the CO2 and alcohol,” he said.

The CO2 produced during the fermentation process is usually released into the atmosphere, but Blindman Brewing will be using a new technology, built by Earthy Labs, that will capture the CO2, clean it, and compress it for reuse.

“The device has different sensors in it to trigger and collect the CO2, and recapture that, and, effectively, put it into a liquid form that we can plug into our existing CO2 liquid manifold and reuse that in different parts of our process,” he said.

The CO2 can then be reused to carbonate beer, for packaging, or to purge tanks. Groendahl expects the new technology to save the brewery $60,000 a year.

“This new system will allow us to recapture and recuperate some of the costs we otherwise spend on CO2 throughout the year while, effectively, limiting our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Blindman Brewing will receive $102,000 in funding from Emissions Reductions Alberta as part of its Food, Farming, and Forestry Challenge. The total project is expected to cost $200,000.

“The grant funding through ERA has allowed this project to be a little more accessible,” Groendahl said.

Blindman Brewing will be the first small-scale brewery in Canada to adopt this new technology.

“Large breweries, like the big Labatt’s processing plant in Edmonton, already do this,” he said.

“There’s other small breweries that do it in the U.S. (United States), and this is the first Canadian installation.”

The brewery expects the technology to arrive in December.

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