Brewery Converts Waste to Gas

Based in Suffolk, Adnams Brewery – which has just been awarded Brewery of the Year by The Good Pub Guide 2011 – has set up Adnams Bio Energy. The plant will generate enough gas to heat around 235 family homes per year. In the future the facility will power the brewery and run its fleet of lorries, while still leaving up to 60% of its output to supply the grid.

Waitrose is the first additional business to sign up to supply its waste to the facility from seven of its nearby branches.

The Adnams Bio Energy plant, which itself is running on solar power, consists of three digesters – sealed vessels in which naturally occurring bacteria act without oxygen to break down up to 12,500 tonnes of organic waste each year. The result is the production of renewable gas as well as a liquid organic fertiliser.

“The industrial ecology cycle is completed when the fertiliser produced by the anaerobic digestion process can be used on farmland to grow barley for Adnams beer,” said the brewery’s chief executive Andy Wood. “Processing the food waste through the digester will save an estimated 50,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents from landfill,” he added.

A study by National Grid shows that bio-methane has the potential to account for at least 15% of domestic gas consumption by 2020. With 28 million pints of beer consumed per day in the UK, according to Adnams, if all the associated waste was used to make bio-methane, there would be enough to heat 47,000 homes.

Mark Fairbairn, executive director of National Grid Gas Distribution, said the project is the first end-to-end demonstration of reusing waste to provide gas for injection into the grid.