With brewer Carlsberg as a pilot company, Union Engineering has significantly improved CO2 re-use with its new ECO2Brew recovery plant for breweries.

Ready for the global market, the patent-pending and proven technology enables significant savings in the production of beer and soft drinks.

Carlsberg is understood to be so pleased with the technology that it has already signed a contract for a second installation.

The beer in the fermentation tanks at Carlsberg produces CO2 during the fermentation process, and Carlsberg can reuse this when producing beer and soft drinks at the brewery in Fredericia, Denmark. This achieves a saving, with less CO2 being purchased externally for beverage production.

“The technology for reusing CO2 in breweries worldwide has changed little in the last 50 years. The sharpened focus on CSR and water and energy savings led Union Engineering to investigate the opportunities for using the CO2Scrub technology in a new type of plant,” explained Michael Mortensen, CSO of Union Engineering.

Five years earlier, Union Engineering had developed a new technology that made it possible to avoid using water when scrubbing the raw CO2 gas. This technology has been patented under the name CO2Scrub and is now being used in several plants, for example distilleries. This proved to be successful in saving the use of drinking water used in the process – which led Union Engineering to question whether this could be deployed in the brewery industry.

Seeking a partner for implementing and testing the technology in beer production, the company partnered with Carlsberg and applied to the EU fund ECO-innovation, which supports environmentally friendly projects and initiatives. This made it possible for Union Engineering to develop and market ECO2Brew – and for Carlsberg to participate in the development project on advantageous terms.

“Initial experiences for Carlsberg have been extremely positive. As a result of implementing the new plant, we have managed to increase the CO2 recovered from the beer fermentation process from approx. 60% to approx. 90%”

Karsten Østergaard, Carlsberg Danmark

Summer 2011 then saw Carlsberg and Union Engineering sign a contract for a new CO2 plant handling 3,000 kg/h for Carlsberg’s brewery in Fredericia. Two years later, the new plant has now been operational for nine months and the initial results are described as ‘extremely positive’.

As well as requiring less maintenance compared with previous incarnations, the new plant is 100% water-free, which is why Carlsberg no longer uses water to scrub CO2 at Fredericia. The scrubbed CO2 is of high quality and has also been approved for the production of soft drinks.

In total, Carlsberg’s brewery in Fredericia has doubled the quantity of CO2 recovered in the brewing process. Consumption of water has been eliminated from the process altogether, and lower energy consumption means it is possible to produce more than twice as much CO2 as before.

Karsten Østergaard, National Supply Manager at Carlsberg Danmark, commented, “Initial experiences for Carlsberg have been extremely positive. As a result of implementing the new plant, we have managed to increase the CO2 recovered from the beer fermentation process from approx. 60% to approx. 90%.”

“As well as the increased production of CO2, this results in a significant power saving, thus reducing the CO2’s environmental impact. In conjunction with implementing the new technology and plant, we decided to look at the entire process.”

Second contract

Even before Union Engineering’s global launch of the ECO2Brew system at the Drinktec exhibition in Munich from 16th – 20th September, Carlsberg is understood to have awarded the company with a second contract to build and install the patented solution, this time in Finland.

With the initial experiences for Carlsberg so positive, the company’s Sinebrychoff Brewery in Finland is thought to have had no hesitation in choosing its first CO2 plant to be installed on-site.

Mortensen added, “We are of course content that Carlsberg are enthusiastic about the new technology; the first plant was a big investment for us and we have followed the project very closely and worked hard to create the best result. The fact that Carlsberg buys the second plant indicates that we have succeeded which is extremely satisfactory for us, and makes us very optimistic prior to the global launch.”

As well as Carlsberg, Union Engineering works with Coca-Cola, Pepsi, SABMiller, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Linde, Praxair, Air Liquide and a number of smaller companies.