CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality said on Monday, April 12 that they are using grant funding to help support Wyoming’s locally owned breweries and distilleries identify energy savings opportunities.
“We work hard to benefit our environment and our communities in as many ways as possible,” Wyoming DEQ Outreach Manager Brian Hall said. “In this case, we’re doing both by helping these Wyoming businesses get pollution prevention audits that can help them save money and be more sustainable.”
The Wyoming DEQ shared a video with an example of how the audits helped Wind River Brewing Company:
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The Wyoming DEQ says that they receive grant funding through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Source Reduction Assistance Program.” The department is required to use the funding on a national emphasis area and Wyoming DEQ chose to use it to focus on food and beverage manufacturing in 2021.
“Because we get such a small amount of grant money, we drill down further, and this year, we decided to focus on breweries and distilleries,” Hall said.
The department pays 100% of the cost to send contracted engineers to interested breweries and distilleries who put together a report “that includes money and energy savings opportunities, approximate implementation costs and estimates of possible financial savings.”
Wyoming DEQ is contracting Colordao-based Iconergy to conduct the audits at as many facilities as the grant funding will cover.
The grant funding has so far facilitated the efforts at six Wyoming breweries or distilleries with four more planned under the grant funding.
“When we do the audits, we look for opportunities to save on energy, waste, water and chemicals,” Iconergy Director of Engineering Erik Jeannette said in the Wyoming DEQ release.
The process uses data from businesses over the past few years to help determine their energy use and give them an idea of where efficiencies can be found.
Examples cost-saving opportunities that have been identified through the process includes the opportunity to re-use the chemical brewers use to clean lines and vessels.
“There is a process to essentially spin the chemical out of solution to then reuse it, and it’s not common that these folks are doing that,” Jeannette said.
Another recommendation has been for businesses to implement carbon dioxide capture. Jeannette explained that yeast used at breweries gives off carbon dioxide during fermentation and that a third-party company has created a system to capture the gas and use it to carbonate the beer.
“It’s almost kind of a no-brainer,” Iconergy Associate Engineer Natan Simhai said in the release. “Rather than letting all of that CO2 go into the atmosphere, you can just capture it and use it back in the brewing process, since you have to do that anyway. From a business standpoint and an environmental standpoint, it makes sense.”
Jeannette said that only about half of the facilities they visit have been recovering the energy they expend when flash cooling beer.
“That energy can be used to preheat the next batch of beer and not doing so results in a lot of wasted water,” Wyoming DEQ said.
Wind River Brewing Company received an audit facilitated by Iconergy in 2019, according to the Wyoming DEQ.
Owner Roy DeWitt said that Hall had reached out to him after he applied for an audit grant through the Wyoming Business Council. The audit report of Wind River Brewing Company recommended they complete a switch to LED lighting and take other steps such as increasing the efficiency of their fan cooling motors and smaller recommendations like replacing a nozzle on their dishwasher.
“We’ve got a lot of breweries in Wyoming that are a lot bigger than us, and they could probably capitalize on this information even more than we could,” DeWitt said in the Wyoming DEQ release. “We’re really happy we went through the audit process and would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Wyoming DEQ note that they have used the grant funding to provide audits for meatpacking and agriculture production facilities in the past.