185. Desiccant dehumidification in breweries: Mold and fungus prevention, food safety, and energy savings

David Summers (1), Mark Piegay (2); (1) Alfa Laval Kathabar Inc., Tampa, FL, U.S.A.; (2) Alfa Laval Kathabar Inc., Buffalo, NY, U.S.A.

Utilities Management

Each year, the costs of doing business in the brewing industry increase, and obstructions from corporate safety and risk managers arise. Producers need to review their operating budgets and search for more efficient methods of production. Brewers must minimize risk and dig deeper to evaluate energy savings and comply with the strict IAQ standards required by the government and public demands—notwithstanding for an existing plant, a retrofit or a new production facility. The brewer’s review process should always consider the survival and permeation of mold and fungi, albeit in the grain and hops storage areas, the fermentation and aging tank-rooms, yeast propagation, filtration rooms and kegging areas, on the walls or other general areas of the plant. The survival and growth of harmful microbiological organisms is caused by one common culprit—poor humidity control. Contrary to popular repute, humidity is not limited to warmer areas of our globe or caused only by CIP wash-downs. When contemplating a liquid or dry desiccant technology for humidity prevention and control, brewers should not just consider the importance thereof, but where it can be applied in the plant and process. We will discuss the use of dry desiccant and liquid desiccant technologies and how to apply them in creative ways for the hygienic treatment of outside and/or the return air. Using an integrated approach, an appropriate dehumidification system will maintain precise temperature and humidity control. While there are good and bad molds and bacterium, there are good and bad yeasts (aka fungi). Problems can arise if ambient humidity levels remain uncontrolled and condensation in the brewery thereby potentially permits microbial bacterium and fungus growth in its place, which can harm the brewing process and product. Liquid desiccant system designs are flexible and act as an effective air scrubber, killing bacteria and viruses in the airstream, and assist with protecting the product, production and profits. Retrofit HVAC installations demand a flexible desiccant dehumidification system design. Additionally the system may comfortably utilize waste heat while supporting onsite power generation and cogeneration effortlessly. Brewers have the unique responsibility of maintaining plant sanitation, notwithstanding mold and fungi contamination prevention or growth, and the environment. Finally, by taking responsibility to control humidity, eliminate condensation, frost and ice, brewers will maintain product quality and integrity, reduce maintenance downtime costs, improve plant and product safety and minimize litigation risk, regardless of the geographic location where the product is brewed.

David Summers is the national sales manager, food and beverage, at Alfa Laval Kathabar Inc. David studied in Australia and received a certificate III in engineering-fabrication trade from RMIT University in Victoria and his degree in international business and marketing from the University of New England Graduate School of Business in New South Wales. He began with Alfa Laval Kathabar Inc. in 2015 and has spent almost 20 years in the food and beverage industries in Europe, Australia and North America. David is based in Tampa, FL, and is a member of the engineering society ASHRAE.