DB Export, a brewery in New Zealand, announced last month it had created a biofuel made using leftover yeast from brewing beer called “Brewtroleum.”
As reported by the NZ Herald, the company recycles yeast slurry, which would otherwise be thrown out or given to animals, and turns it into ethanol that can be mixed with regular petroleum fuel.
This isn’t particularly revolutionary, as fuel comprised of 10% ethanol and 90% petroleum (E10) is incredibly common, but DB claims it’s the first time that commercially available E10 has been made from beer by-products. The company believes that MillerCoors was the first to make fuel from beer by-products, but DB is the first to bring it to the public.In an email to Mashable, a company spokesperson said its 98 octane E10 is theoretically no different than any other E10, though DB argues its is more fun to make.
E10 is sold as a greener, more sustainable alternative to pure petroleum fuels, but these claims have attracted much debate. A 2013 investigation from the Associated Press found the increased corn production to make ethanol in the U.S. caused great environmental harm and drove up the cost of corn at the supermarket.
There is also debate about the performance effects of gas with ethanol mixed in, especially in E15, which uses a mix of 15% ethanol and 85% petroleum.
DB Export’s Brewtroleum is a stunt, but maybe they’re on to something with using the yeast leftover from beer production. Much of the controversy surrounding ethanol in the U.S. came from the over-farming of corn for its production, but not so much the usage of ethanol itself.
Perhaps governments and energy companies should be looking at some more left-field options for producing ethanol: There were 3,464 craft beer breweries registered in the U.S. in 2014. This represents a lot of otherwise useless yeast which could be turned into ethanol.
Beer is going to be produced in huge quantities no matter what, so maybe it’s smart to capitalize on its production to make more ethanol.
DB’s Brewtroleum will be available at 60 Gull gas stations across New Zealand. The company produced about 79,251 gallons (300,000 liters) of fuel from 7,925 gallons of ethanol, which the company thinks will last about six weeks, according to a DB Spokesperson. 8.8 million bottles of beer were produced to make this supply.
Maybe beer can save the planet: The human race will just have to drink a lot. Not before driving, of course.