A central Alberta business is taking a unique approach to carbon capture by serving up some of its emissions in beer.
Breweries produce carbon dioxide during the fermentation process and they use CO2 to carbonate beer.
So, a central Alberta brewery is taking what seems like the logical next step by becoming the first in Canada to use carbon capture technology and recycle those emissions.
Blindman Brewing, based in Lacombe, spends about $60,000 a year buying CO2 canisters to give their beers the perfect, refreshing texture.
But during fermentation, yeast devours sugars, producing alcohol and CO2 as the byproducts.
Now, the brewery will be capturing that CO2, scrubbing it and compressing it to carbonate their beers and run canning lines — reducing their emissions, and need for purchased CO2 to near zero.
Kirk Zembal, the brewery’s cofounder, said he spent five years researching the right equipment, which was purchased with the help of a grant through Emissions Reduction Alberta.
“When you have these ideas that are simple, that reduce emissions and that are financially viable, well, those are Win-win wins,” he said.
“We’re probably going to capture about 100 metric tons of CO2 … there’s 1,100 other craft breweries in Canada, 7,000 or 8,000 in the States, and tens of thousands more around the world. If we can all adopt equipment like this, well now we’re making a big impact.”
Zembal said the investment is expected to pay for itself in two to three years.
The device, which is about the size of a refrigerator, is designed for small breweries by Texas-based Earthly Labs. It cost $200,000, half of which was covered by ERA.
The brewery is partnering with Olds College to develop a dataset on emissions reductions and profitability, so its experience can be shared with other breweries across the country interested in the environmentally friendly process.
“I think it’s baked into the ethos of craft beer to do better and, you know, we really all need to reduce our carbon emissions,” Zembal said.
The carbon capture program, which will be installed this summer, is just one of the brewery’s steps toward going green, alongside installing a solar array to recycling its plastic can holders.