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Biofuels The Karl Strauss Brewery, GreenHouse Energy, and the E-Fuel 100 MicroFueler have teamed up to convert waste yeast to ethanol.

Published on July 21st, 2009 | by Tina Casey

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Beer-to-Ethanol Triple Threat Teams Karl Strauss, GreenHouse, and E-Fuel



The Karl Strauss Brewery, GreenHouse Energy, and the E-Fuel 100 MicroFueler have teamed up to convert waste yeast to ethanol.

Legendary San Diego microbrewery Karl Strauss has partnered with the GreenHouse alternative energy company and the E-Fuel MicroFueler to convert waste yeast from the brewery to ethanol.  When a microbrewer, a microfueler, and the inventor of the Nintendo Wii controller (Tom Quinn, CEO of E-Fuel) get together, there has to be a twist, and there is.  Instead of limiting the operation to ethanol conversion at the brewery, GreenHouse will collect the waste yeast from the brewery and transport it to participating homes and businesses.  Each will have the refrigerator-sized portable MicroFueler unit on site, enabling them to produce ethanol and pump it directly from the MicroFueler into their vehicles.

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Yeast-to-Ethanol: Government Support is the Key

The partnership between Karl Strauss, GreenHouse, and E-Fuel is supported in part by government rebates.  That puts the pricey MicroFueler within reach of more households and businesses, cutting the $10,000 tag down to about $8,000.  A federal tax credit of 50% provides further help to businesses.  Considering the massive subsidies provided to fossil fuel industries that’s not even a drop in the bucket, but it’s a start.  An exclusive distribution territory for GreenHouse provides another key element of the deal, and the involvement of Karl Strauss virtually guarantees a steady stream of feedstock: 28 tons of waste yeast weekly.

Yeast-to-Ethanol: Another Giant Step for Green Beer

Karl Strauss joins a growing list of eco-conscious beverage makers that work with GreenHouse to convert waste to ethanol, including The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, San Jose brewer Gordon Biersch, and international orange juicer Sunny Delight.  That’s a far cry from the previous practice of using brewers’ waste yeast for cow feed – and a far more sustainable feedstock for ethanol than corn.

Image: Richard Jones on flickr.com.

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



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  • Forbes

    I am confused, yeast is the converter in the feedstuff to ethanol equation. All Karl Strauss seems to be doing is offering a cheaper (?) source of yeast for the microfueler to work with. But the yeast from Karl Strauss is unlikely to be good enough to do this properly given that it has already fermented beer several times.

    Moreover, as a ferment feedstock yeast from the brewery is no more than 20% fermentable, if you treat it as a chemical. Overall this sounds like a poor concept.

  • Forbes

    I am confused, yeast is the converter in the feedstuff to ethanol equation. All Karl Strauss seems to be doing is offering a cheaper (?) source of yeast for the microfueler to work with. But the yeast from Karl Strauss is unlikely to be good enough to do this properly given that it has already fermented beer several times.

    Moreover, as a ferment feedstock yeast from the brewery is no more than 20% fermentable, if you treat it as a chemical. Overall this sounds like a poor concept.

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