Drink Beer, Make Fuel

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A brewing company in Chico, Calif. is adapting a new system at its brewery that will make its own high-quality ethanol fuel from discarded beer yeast.

The Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., working with the E-Fuel Corporation, will start testing the system in the second quarter of this year, and hopes to move to full-scale ethanol production in third quarter.

“This has the potential to be a great thing for the environment and further our commitment to be becoming more energy independent,” said Ken Grossman, founder and president, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Currently, Sierra Nevada resells almost 1.6 million gallons of unusable “bottom of the barrel” beer yeast waste to local farmers to be used as dairy feed. The waste contains 5 to 8 percent alcohol content, including enough yeast and nutrients to enable the ethanol system, the MicroFueler, to raise that level to 15 percent alcohol, allowing for an increased ethanol yield.

“Creating ethanol from discarded organic waste is an excellent example of how the MicroFueler can help eliminate our reliance on the oil industry infrastructure. This is especially true when considering Americans reportedly discard 50 percent of all agricultural farmed products,” said Tom Quinn, E-Fuel founder and CEO. “Using a waste product to fuel your car is friendlier to the environment and lighter on your wallet, easily beating prices at the gas pump.”

The Technology

The EFuel100 MicroFueler is the world’s first portable ethanol micro-refinery system. The system also comes in a household appliance-sized unit, making it possible “for homeowners and small businesses to safely and cost-effectively create their own fuel, on-site,” according to the company.

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