2. Sustainable treatment of high-strength brewery effluent at Bell’s Brewery: Operational efficiencies and life-cycle cost of ownership

Evan Meffert (1), Walker Modic (1); (1) Bell's Brewery, Inc., Comstock, MI, U.S.A.

Technical Session 1: Eco-Awareness & Sustainability
Sunday, August 14  •  9:45–11:30 a.m.
Plaza Building, Concourse Level, Governor’s Square 14

This presentation reviews the operating efficiencies and amortized cost of ownership for a novel waste-to-energy system incorporating brewery wastewater, or “byproduct,” pretreatment, and a combined heat and power (CHP) internal combustion engine-generator set. Seeking to mitigate costs associated with high levels of BOD and TSS in brewery byproduct, while also generating renewable onsite energy, in 2014 Bell’s Brewery Inc. installed three 40,000 gal anaerobic digesters and a 150 kW CHP generator set. Since achieving steady-state operations in May 2015, the system has successfully treated more than 6,000 lb of COD per day, reliably removing COD, BOD, and cBOD at rates greater then 75%, 84%, and 90%, respectively, and generating more heat and power then the treatment system requires. An overview of the system’s design parameters will include designed capacity, order of operations, tank sizing, and control strategies. Data collected over the previous 14 months of operation will be used to illustrate the system’s performance, digester system costs, and realized savings. Digester performance will include feed water temp and pH, volatile acid concentrations, COD/BOD removal efficiency, biogas quantity, biogas quality, and net energy balance at variable COD loading rates. Digester system costs discussed include amortized capital costs, chemical consumption, byproduct heating, net power balance, solids disposal, required labor, maintenance, and laboratory services. Savings from the system include sewer surcharge savings, electricity generation, waste heat recovery, and available federal funding associated with capital investments. The Bell’s Brewery design and operations team will conclude with insights and lessons learned from the design and commissioning phases, as well as an overview of projects currently in development for increased efficiency, cost control, and energy generation at Bell’s bioenergy building.

Evan began his brewing career at Bell’s in 2008 upon graduation from Kalamazoo College, with a genuine curiosity about what it takes to grow a business at the rate Bell’s has maintained since its founding. He has had the privilege to play key roles in major capital expansion projects to support this growth, including the installation of a 200-bbl brewhouse in 2012, the design and construction of a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility in 2014 and, most recently, a 210,000 square foot packaging and warehouse expansion. Presently, he is responsible for brewery maintenance, utilities, facilities and sustainability.