Americans learned this week that the leader of the free world likes to brew his own “superb” beer. The Washington Post reported that President Obama likes microbrews “so much so that he bought a beer-making kit (with personal funds) for the White House.” Now the White House can take the next step and slash its electricity bill, too.
Bitte Ein Bit!: Bitburger Brewery, one of Germany’s largest, has used GE Jenbacher engines for 20 years to cut its power needs.
Breweries produce two to three pints of waste water for each pint of beer. The water is rich in yeast, sugar and other favorite bacteria food. When microbes feast on it inside special tanks called anaerobic digesters, they produce methane, the main component of biogas. GE has found a way to burn this methane inside innovative “ecomagination” engines that convert as much as 90 percent of the gas into heat and electricity.
Breweries in the U.S., Africa, Japan and Europe have bought the GE engines, called Jenbacher. The Bitburger Brewery, which is one of Germany’s largest, ignited its first Jenbacher two decades ago. The brewer, which produced almost 200 million gallons of beer last year (in Germany that’s 7.5 million hectolitres, to be exact), said that a Jenbacher engine located at its flagship Bitburger Brauerei brewery cut its energy demands by 10 percent and slashed greenhouse emissions by an equivalent of 10,000 tons of CO2 since it started burning biogas seven years ago.
The Jenbacher gas engine at the brewery produces 624 kilowatts of electricity and 700 kilowatts of thermal power, including 330 kilowatts of steam. In all, GE has supplied about 2,200 Jenbacher engines for power projects in Germany, representing more than 18 percent of GE’s globally installed Jenbacher fleet. Combined, these units generate electricity equivalent to the amount used by about 3 million average E.U. homes.