How Breweries Can Save Energy and Money with Proper Water Treatment
Craft brewers are facing a significant challenge in trying to become more sustainable, particularly in terms of reducing energy and water consumption during the brewing process. One of the main sources of inefficiency is the steam boiler used to heat brewing vessels, which consumes a considerable amount of energy and water. Fortunately, there is a solution that can help improve boiler efficiency and reduce operating costs: implementing a proper water treatment program.
The majority of breweries utilize steam to heat their brewing vessels through steam jackets, resulting in the return of most of their condensate, commonly referred to as “liquid gold” within the water treatment industry. The ability to recycle condensate is the most critical factor that impacts steam boiler efficiency for several reasons:
- Recycling condensate translates to using less water from the city tap, leading to savings on the water bill.
- When city water is used, it must undergo softening first. By using less city water, the rate of softener salt used will also decrease.
- Significant fuel savings are achieved as most recycled condensate is hot, ranging from 130°F to 225°F, thereby reducing the amount of cold makeup water (50°F to 60°F) that must be heated. The energy present in the condensate can account for more than 10% of the total steam energy content in a typical system.
- Condensate is pure, similar to distilled water with low levels of dissolved solids. By adding fewer solids to the boiler, the frequency of having to blow it down decreases, leading to savings on water and sewer costs.
Ensuring the longevity of equipment by preventing corrosion and scale
Apart from enhancing steam boiler efficiency, boiler treatments also aim to prevent corrosion and scale formation on boiler tubes. This is the most effective way to treat a steam system due to the protective passivation it forms on all metallic surfaces it touches. Prolonging the lifespan of your steam system and brewing equipment saves significant costs in the long term. Preventing scale formation on boiler tubes can be achieved with a water softener and an effective boiler treatment. However, if left unchecked, it can become quite expensive. When boiler tubes are covered in scale, they must use more fuel to attain the same level of heat transfer. Even an eighth-inch of scale can cause a 25% increase in fuel usage.