Twenty-three-years ago, Homer Simpson dared to dream the impossible dream of a beer-powered car.* Today, thanks to a brewery in New Zealand, that dream is a reality… sort of.
DB Breweries has begun turning its brewing-related waste into a bio fuel that can be used to power cars. The company calls the product DB Export Brewtroleum, and an Auckland gas station selling the fuel claims it’s resulted in their “busiest day of the year, so far.”
Here’s how the process works. When brewing beer, there’s always a bit of sediment left once the drink has fermented. It’s mainly made up of inactive yeast, and people in the brewing business call it slurry. Usually, as Simon explains, “The yeast slurry is passed on to farmers for stock feed, but sometimes it can go to waste.”
The DB Export folks realized the slurry could still be used to produce ethanol; a key ingredient in biofuel. So instead of dumping it, they sent 15,300 gallons of slurry to a refinery. There, the ethanol from the yeast was refined until it was pure enough to start mixing with petrol. Simon explains “Brewtroleum is 10 percent ethanol from our yeast, and 90 percent petrol.” That’s the same ratio as the E10 at your local service station, which almost all modern cars can run on.
In all, 79,250 gallons of Brewtroleum were created using waste materials from the brewery. This means it was more environmentally friendly than bio fuels that are made from crops, because producing the Brewtroleum required no land or resources.
This innovative publicity stunt should come as no surprise to anyone who knows the history of DB Export (and by that, I mean anyone who has read the “History” section on the company’s website).
Morton Coutts, one of the company’s founders, was responsible for developing “continuous fermentation,” a process that allows beer producers to continuously brew without stopping between batches. So it seems beer-related innovation is in the company’s DNA.
*Yes, I know Homer’s daydream was about an alcohol-fueled car, not a beer-fueled car. But I wanted to use the .GIF, so deal with it.