This is the first in a multi-series of posts related to my experience with brewery anaerobic digestion of brewery wastewater. (Sorry for some of the weird wording, blame it on SEO) If you are considering anaerobic treatment at your brewery I encourage you to read this entire series of posts. If you are currently operating a anaerobic digester, you will get some good food for thought as well as some good entertainment. Enjoy.
When I first got in to the brewing world, it was the summer of 1998 and I was living in Bend, OR and I was working in a small water and wastewater lab. Deschutes Brewery was a client of ours and I got to know the people there and of course got plenty of free Black Butte Porter. At the time Deschutes just installed a brand new, one-of-a-kind anaerobic digester for their wastewater and they were looking for an operator. At first I didn’t get the job, but it turns out the guy that did get the job lied during the interview process and didn’t know what he was getting himself in to. About 2 months later I got the job.
Anyway, Deschutes got in to a contentious relationship with the City of Bend regarding surcharges, pH adjustment, etc. They built a brand new brewery and got hit with a curveball after the fact (after plans and permits were approved) that they needed to pretreat their wastewater. Sound familiar? So Deschutes decided to skip the City and treat their own wastewater on site. All of this happened before I started working there.
Fast forward a few years and I inherited a brand new anaerobic digester, serial #1 for this particular company, Newbio. A 30,000 gal test tube so to speak. Just to drive home the point a little more, this installation was the first full size system ever for this company, all they had prior to this was a small trailer mounted pilot plant.
This is a schematic of the Newbio system.
The short story is it was a fiasco. The biology of the system worked, getting treated water out without losing biomass was the killer. After 2 yrs of no results, I came up with a new plan and we gutted they system, turning it in to a big equalization tank. I believe Newbio is no longer in business. Lots of money and effort went down the drain, so to speak.
Here is the rest of this story.