GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – City officials spoke to a small crowd Thursday about how they will use Founders Brewing Company waste to create renewable energy and resources.
The brewery is a familiar sight for many who live or play in Grand Rapids, but few have seen the wastewater pipes running underground. They take waste created during the beer production process about two miles away to the city’s water resource recovery facility.
Over the last few months, crews have been constructing a Grand Rapids’ first biodigester.
The addition came as city leaders saw as high as 60 million gallons of waste water passing through the water treatment plant per day.
Brian Vu, Assistant Superintendent at the city’s Water Resource Recovery Facility, told 24 Hour News 8 that building it was a proactive move to keep up with city growth.
He explained that the biodigester will ease the waste water treatment plant’s load while also yielding new benefits.
“The biodigestion will produce a bio fuel,” Vu said.
Vu presented the plans to Citizens’ Climate Lobby at an evening meeting on Thursday at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council building.
“We’ll have a renewable fuel. We plan on cleaning it up to pipeline grade so it could be reused in CNG (compressed natural gas) stations,” said Vu.
Vu said that some of the recovered materials, like phosphorous, will make great fertilizers.
Founders officials also talked with 24 Hour News 8.
Cody Green, the brewery’s environmental health and safety manager, said the highly-concentrated water also creates energy. Sixty percent of that energy will be used by the WRRF, according the city’s website.
“It essentially turns our waste, which is traditionally a liability for the city, into an asset through his biodigester,” said Green.
The city hopes to eventually add more businesses to the biodigester.
Right now, they’re testing what’s flowing from Founders before things are fully ready to go.
Green said the beer will still be brewed the same way.