Did you know that air compressors are used to compress different types of gases? That’s right! Reciprocating (piston) and screw compressors are utilized in gas compression, including CO2 compression. Applications that use compressed CO2 include fertilizer plants, grain treatment, sugar processing plants, rice processing plants, and tea processing plants, where CO2 needs to either be recovered for further utilization and/or to avoid carbon emissions to the atmosphere. The process of recovering the CO2 is called - you guessed it! – CO2 recovery.
CO2 Recovery in Breweries
One of the more exciting industries that uses CO2 recovery is the brewery industry. While there are many processes that go into making a quality beer, including malting, milling, mashing, one of the very first steps in beer production is the fermentation of the yeast. During this process, a low-pressure compressor supplies oxygen to bacteria; this, in turn, creates alcohol using microorganisms while concurrently producing CO2.
So now we know that CO2 is created and released during fermentation. But were you aware that CO2 is also a necessary component in carbonating the beer and in other processes like tank purging and inertization? This is where a CO2 recovery system comes into play. Without this system in place, the CO2 gas produced during fermentation is instead lost and vented into the atmosphere, where it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. This means that the carbon dioxide isn’t available to fill the brewery’s carbonation and other needs. Additionally, the cost of purchasing CO2 can be prohibitive.
By implementing a CO2 recovery system, breweries get in front of these issues by creating a circular process where what comes out (CO2) goes back in (CO2). They’re not only able to sustain their own need for carbon dioxide, but can use this gas for other commercial goals. Large breweries can easily be looking at CO2 purchase savings of over $1,000,000 annually by investing in their own CO2 recovery system. It’s a win-win.
One thing to keep in mind is choosing a CO2 recovery system that works best for your business. In the case of breweries, this is often oil-free, which means that no oil is added to the gas during the compression process in order to ensure the highest quality (cleanliness) of CO2 at the booster outlet. This is key, given that the CO2 being compressed comes into contact with the end-product product. Be it beer, soda, rice, tea or coffee, many companies don’t want to risk oil contamination that would negatively affect their production and reputation. As an example, breweries take particular care in avoiding any oil contamination into their beer since it will affect both the flavor and the foam structure. In this, oil-free compression technology is key.