Some of you may remember a CAP post from last fall where we talked about the role of the carbon dioxide supply chain and issues with supply constraints. In it, we mentioned:

“Breweries are another industry feeling the strain. Several independent breweries across the country have had to shut down or decrease operations, while others are paying as much as three to four times as much for their normal supply of carbon dioxide.”

Well, this weekend The Washington Post ran an article on how some breweries are tackling this issue head on. By implementing – you guessed it – carbon capture.

The article states:

“The machine that enables [Clinton] Mack [Austin Beerwork’s cellar manager] to capture CO2 from Austin Beerworks’ tanks is the size of a large, double-door refrigerator. Nicknamed CiCi — short for “carbon capture” — it takes in CO2 that flows from the fermenters through pipes that snake around the brewery, filters it to more than 99 percent purity, and condenses it into liquid.

“The machine then stores the resulting condensed gas for use elsewhere, including to carbonate beer. Mack said installing the technology, made by Austin-based Earthly Labs, was a no-brainer. The average batch releases about one-third of a pound of CO2 per gallon of beer, which adds up to about 210,800 pounds a year from a brewery like Austin Beerworks. That’s about the same amount of CO2 that 21 gas-powered cars release in an average year.”

It’s a good reminder that carbon dioxide is a commodity itself – and in the case of beer and other carbonated beverages, an ingredient.

It’s also a reminder that carbon capture technology is scalable and its benefits can be leveraged by a diverse array of industries. While the carbon emissions from the beer fermentation process are relatively small, the steps these breweries are taking are not only saving money, but helping to address their industry’s carbon footprint.  

As the article further notes:

“An audit by Efficiency Vermont, an independent nonprofit group that studies carbon emissions, found the [Alchemist Brewery’s, located in Stowe, VT] CiCi unit used enough power to generate 9,680 pounds of CO2 emissions per year. But that power was far offset by the 26,000 pounds of CO2 it captured — enough to completely replace the brewery’s need for commercially produced gas — over the same time. That’s a 268 percent net reduction in CO2 usage, even when accounting for the energy it took to run the CiCi system, said Patrick Haller, the principal engineering consultant for Efficiency Vermont.”

These breweries are tracking exactly what the international environmental community has long said – carbon capture technology allows for decarbonization while still driving economic growth.

To learn more about how carbon capture is being used, check out CAP’s Resource Library.