How about a ‘green’ beer? It’s our shout
Young Henrys brewers and UTS scientists are using algae to reduce the carbon footprint of your schooner.
Bioreactors teeming with microscopic algae are a surreal presence on the brew floor of independent Sydney brewer Young Henrys.
Their green glow is like a sci-fi light show among the stainless steel tanks and brewing equipment.
This is no futuristic fiction, however.
The 400-litre bioreactors are the centrepiece of a research project involving scientists from the Climate Change Cluster (C3) at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the Inner West brewery. Algae housed in the bioreactors capture CO2, a byproduct of the brewing process, and release oxygen.
Biotechnologist and C3 research associate Dr Leen Labeeuw says a tree would take up to two days to absorb the amount of CO2 generated during the production of one six-pack of beer (brewing produces 35g of CO2 per litre of beer). Algae is up to five times more efficient than trees at absorbing carbon.
“It’s like we’re installing a mini forest on the brewery floor – one 400-litre bag of algae can produce as much oxygen as about a hectare of Australian bush,” Dr Labeeuw says.
Young Henrys co-founders Oscar McMahon and Richard Adamson say the project, funded through the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Innovation Connections program, aims to lead the way for the industry in making brewing a more carbon neutral process.
“We were inspired by the work the C3 group were doing and wanted to get involved. We thought it would be worth exploring how microalgae could work in a brewing operation to lower our carbon footprint and produce real-world solutions,” Adamson says.
Working with a sustainability-focused company such as Young Henrys shows we can address the climate emergency using readily available technology.
Professor Peter Ralph
Professor Peter Ralph, executive director of the Climate Change Cluster, says working with a sustainability-focused company such as Young Henrys shows we can address the climate emergency using technology that is readily available.
“Algae offers many solutions to the climate emergency; we just need dynamic, culturally connected companies like Young Henrys to partner with universities like UTS,” Professor Ralph says.
The UTS Climate Change Cluster is working on a range of uses for algae to help combat climate change, including the creations of products such as food, pharmaceuticals and plastics.
To read more about the Young Henrys project, click here.