Australian brewery Young Henrys is working to combat climate change with an unusual ingredient: algae.
The fermentation process that takes place during beer production releases large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), which can contribute to climate change. It takes about two days for a tree to absorb the CO2 released by the production of a six-pack of beers. But, Young Henrys claims that their algae not only absorb the released CO2, they also produce as much oxygen as two and a half acres of wilderness.
Algae are up to five times more effective at absorbing carbon than trees, according to technology company Hypergiant.
Oscar McMahon, co-founder of Young Henrys, sees its potential to reduce emissions from beer production. McMahon tells Food Tank, “ This is a one-time project and the focus is not on making a profit. It’s creating something that we can share with other people to adapt and use . “
The young Henrys signed this project with the Sydney University of Technology to achieve carbon neutrality. To experience the efficiency of his system, Young Henrys uses two bioreactors to grow algae. The first, a control, contains CO2, oxygen and algae. The second contains the same three components but is connected to a fermentation tank. As the fermentation process produces additional CO2, the gas flows into the bioreactor.
According to McMahon, at the end of each day, the control bioreactor contains 50% less algae. This shows that the algae from the experimental bioreactor successfully consume the harmful greenhouse gas, McMahon tells Food Tank. The hope is that this system can not only reduce CO2 emissions from beer production, but eventually convert it to oxygen.
This project will continue for another year, but McMahon expects the algae to continue to decrease Young Henrys’ carbon emissions as they find additional uses for the organism.
Young Henrys is currently experimenting with incorporating algae into food, pharmaceuticals and bioplastics. Other companies around the world are also developing energy bars, dietary supplements, protein shakes, and other foods and beverages that use algae.
To increase algae production and develop these new products, McMahon and Young Henrys are consulting with engineering and beer industry groups to make this process scalable. McMahon says that both microbreweries and national breweries will require the infrastructure and technology to easily incorporate algae into beer production.
McMahon describes the beauty of algae and microorganisms used in beer fermentation as ” ying and yang organisms, similar things that live in large tanks of liquid that do opposite but corrective jobs .”
More information: younghenrys.com