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.
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.