Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2016 and has been completely updated for accuracy, comprehensiveness, and new information.
This weekend marks the July 4th holiday, and we’re betting that many of our readers are going to celebrate with an ice-cold beer! Made from four primary ingredients of grain, hops, yeast, and water, beer has been a hugely-popular beverage for thousands of years. In fact, according to Times Magazine, beer remains as the most popular alcoholic beverage not only in the United States – but in the entire world!
Both CO2 and nitrogen are utilized in several phases of the beer-making process – but many brewers aren’t aware that they can replace two-thirds of the CO2 used with nitrogen. From purging tanks between uses to keeping wort, beer and residual mash from oxidizing and contaminating the next batch of beer, nitrogen is the ideal gas for breweries. Nitrogen can also be used to push beer from one tank to the other, and in the final stages of the brewing process, it’s used to pressurize kegs prior to shipment and final use.
Benefits of On-Site Nitrogen for Breweries
Want to know about the exact perks for breweries that have switched to generating nitrogen on-site? Check out four key benefits below:
Saves Time. Breweries that enlist third party vendors for nitrogen risk delayed and sometimes cancelled deliveries. Not having the nitrogen necessary for brewing applications halts production, creates downtime and contributes to potential profit losses. Once the supply does arrive, it needs to be brought in and attached to the old system while old canisters are removed. With an onsite nitrogen generation system in place, it saves any wait time and allows operators to focus on other functional tasks.
Minimizes Gas Waste. Without an onsite nitrogen generator, brewing facilities are often left to buy liquid nitrogen in bulk. The large amount of nitrogen is normally not used at once and remains in tanks with ambient heat, causing it to expand. If the built-up pressure is not released, the tank can explode. To prevent this from happening, the tanks must blow off for gas to be released, which wastes unused nitrogen, time and money.
Lowers Costs. Purchasing nitrogen cylinders and dewars can cost on average $2.50 - $5.00 CCF. Remote areas may pay up to three times more, depending on how far the facility is from the gas distribution center. With onsite nitrogen generation, brewers are paying closer to $0.10 to $0.15 CCF with the potential to save up to 75% on nitrogen costs. Even better? There are many nitrogen generator financing options available!
Reduces Carbon Footprint. Most breweries in the U.S. utilize carbon dioxide for inerting tanks and transferring products between vessels and then from the vessel to packaging. Switching from carbon dioxide to nitrogen is a cost-effective and industry-accepted alternative for these applications, helping to reduce gas requirements by up to 70%. This is a significant benefit – not only does it help breweries decrease their environmental footprint, but will help them successfully navigate the looming CO2 shortage.
Considering the Switch From CO2 to N2?
On-site nitrogen generators can save time, reduce waste, and cut costs in the long run for many breweries. Depending on usage, brewing facilities may break even within the first two years of installation! If you’re thinking of switching from CO2 to N2, consider the questions below – then reach out to your local nitrogen generator expert to discuss!
What are the size of your FVs (fermenting vessels) and BBTs (brite tanks)?
Do you inert tanks, transfer products, or packages at the same time?
What is your transfer Rate for packing (cans, bottles, kegs)?
What’s the volume of CO2 delivered annually?
What’s the cost per #CO2 and total annual CO2 spend?
Do you use nitrogen in product or draught system?
What’s the cost per N2 CCF or N2 cylinder and the total annual spend?
By using onsite nitrogen generation, brewers can save significant amounts of money throughout the life of their operation. Visit us at www.atlascopco.com/nitrogen-usa for more information.