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Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Using By-Product from Beer-Brewing Process for Fuel.

ENERGY RESOURCE-10 October 2006-Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Using By-Product from Beer-Brewing Process for Fuel(C)2006 JeraOne -

A waste by-product from the beer-brewing process at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is now being used to fuel the company's 1 megawatt Direct Fuel Cell (DFC) power plant from FuelCell Energy Inc.

The brewery's fuel cell power plant, which began running last summer, initially ran on natural gas. To boost the brewery's energy efficiency and ecologically friendly profile, Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman wanted to convert the ultra-clean fuel cells from operating solely on natural gas to a gas mixture that the brewery produced as a by-product, methane.

Sierra Nevada installed a compressor and filtration system to purify methane gas that is generated during the brewery's water treatment process, and then feed it to the power plant for fuel.

As a result, two of the plant's four fuel cell stacks can now operate in dual fuel mode -- using any combination of natural gas and anaerobic digester gas (ADG). As Sierra Nevada increases its production and the amount of methane it generates, it also can operate the other two fuel cells on ADG. Gas produced in the digester reduces the amount of fuel used in the power plant.

The system is capable of producing 250 to 400 kilowatts (kW) of electricity from biogas, reducing the company's fuel costs by 25 to 40 percent.

"By converting the DFC plants to operate on ADG, we have further advanced our company's sustainability goals and reduced our energy and waste disposal costs," said Grossman. "The fuel cell power plant provides us with reliable, 24-7 electricity and helps make our energy self-sufficiency a reality."

"The installation at Sierra Nevada is a great example of the fuel flexibility of our DFC power plants," noted Bruce Ludemann, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing, FuelCell Energy. "Because fuel cells generate energy by chemical conversion rather than combustion, they can convert virtually any biomass- or hydrocarbon-power source into ultra-clean electricity. Sierra Nevada is reducing its energy costs and eliminating a manufacturing by-product that would otherwise add to its disposal and waste water expenditures."

The 1 MW power plant, one of three FuelCell Energy megawatt-class sites now running in the state, is classified as an ultra-clean technology under California law and provides virtually 100 percent of Sierra Nevada's base load power requirements. The fuel cells operate in co-generation mode, so their 650 degree thermal output is utilized to create steam that further offsets the natural gas needs of their existing boilers providing an additional reduction in operating costs and increase in system efficiency.

The facility was named one of 12 "Top Plants" worldwide by Power Magazine in 2006.

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Publication:Energy Resource
Date:Oct 10, 2006
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