Heineken powering Manchester brewery with wasted beer leftover from pandemic shutdown

April 6, 2021 |

In the UK, with The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) predicting around 87 million pints will have been thrown away as a result of pub closures during the Covid-19 lockdowns around the UK – the equivalent to £331m worth of beer – HEINEKEN, as part of its Brewing A Better World sustainability strategy, wanted to do what it could to help. For the first time ever, the machine that fills beer kegs destined for pubs has been put into reverse – it’s being used to empty thousands of kegs instead. This beer is then turned into green energy – and using it to power the brewing kettles and canning pasteurizers.

Since May 2020 the brewery has processed an incredible 83,210 fifty liter kegs which is the equivalent to 6,989,640 pints. Or to put it into context enough power to heat nearly 28,000 average UK homes for a day, make 45,488,120 cups of tea or power 6,317,794 hours of binge watching.

Having successfully found a way to reverse the kegging line, the next stage of the innovative solution is all down to an innocuous looking shipping container which houses an incredibly powerful piece of kit. Its proper name is a combined heat and power unit (CHP) which converts the biogas into heat and electricity, but it’s affectionately known as ‘Merlin’ because it contains a whopping 27 liter V12 engine – the equivalent of a Merlin engine which powered the world-famous Spitfire plane. The biogas is also converted into heat in the site steam boilers utilizing state of the equipment.

The thousands of full kegs, which couldn’t be sent to pubs because of the lockdown, are emptied and the beer is stored in empty brewing vessels before being drip-fed into the site’s waste water treatment plant (WWTP).  It’s then put into the anaerobic digester at the WWTP which converts the alcohol in the beer into biogas. The biogas, which is 100% sustainable and renewable, is then used to supplement the energy the site needs to brew beer and pasteurise and cans.

The WWTP has been operating at full capacity processing the equivalent of 70,000 liters of beer a day.

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Category: Fuels

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