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    First milestone reached in Phoenix BMC development project

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    In mid-2022, Steinecker presented its Phoenix BMC development project for the first time – a concept for upcycling brewing residuals and using them for energy recovery. The pilot installation is running at Ustersbacher Brewery, where the first module is now fully up and running.

    Article 38080
    Phoenix BMC is being put into action for the first time, at the Ustersbacher Brewery in Bavaria, Germany. Developers Dr. Rainer Gottschalk and Prof. Waldemar Reule together with technical director Josef Geh, owner Stephanie Schmid, Dirk Haemling and Dr. Ralph Schneid of Steinecker are quite pleased with the outstanding results this first module is able to achieve.

    With Phoenix BMCSteinecker is able to convert brewing residuals into valuable raw materials. The extracted proteins and mineral fertiliser can be sold, and the process water can be recycled on-site. Finally, the biogas generated can fuel a combined heat and power (CHP) plant for energy recovery directly at the brewery. 

    In this first module, spent grains, malt dust and yeast are processed to extract a liquid protein solution known as protein hydrolysate. For this, the mash runs through a colloid mill and a membrane filter. “We’d never worked with these two pieces of equipment before, so we first had to get a handle on the technology. But after a series of trials, we were able to do just that,” says Dr. Ralph Schneid, who is in charge of product development at Steinecker. In fact, the Steinecker team didn’t just meet the target metrics – in many cases they exceeded them. “The quality of the hydrolysate is very good – 55 percent of the amino acids we are obtaining are essential amino acids,” says Schneid.

    Pays for itself in three years’ time

    The return on investment  for this system is quite impressive. The first module of Phoenix BMC pays for itself in just three years’ time.* That is in large part attributable to the excellent quality of the hydrolysate – 55 percent of the amino acids obtained are essential amino acids. 

    * Based on an annual output of 750,000 hl

    From spent grains and yeast to high-quality protein hydrolysate

    The excellent quality of the extracted protein means that it can be used in a number of areas within the food industry. The range of applications is broad, and the specifics will depend on the precise makeup of the proteins. However, it does seem that Steinecker and the brewery may be able to shape that: “Initial findings show that the exact composition of amino acids can be influenced by the mixing ratio of the spent grains and yeast as well as variation in enzymes and process parameters. But we are still solidifying these findings,” says Dr. Ralph Schneid. And yet the first talks are already underway with interested companies from the alternative foods segment.

    Image 38083
    From malt to spent grains to liquid hydrolysate – brewing residuals are completely recovered.

    Module 2 is already in the starting blocks

    Although the first module has been successfully put into operation, that doesn’t mean the Phoenix development team is going to rest on their laurels. “Installation of Module 2 in Ustersbach is already beginning. This module uses acid fermentation to release the remaining nitrogen. An ion exchanger then separates it from the biomass,” explains Dr. Ralph Schneid. The result is liquid mineral fertiliser that can be used in agriculture. It’s yet another valuable raw material that can be obtained from what would otherwise simply be waste from brewing.


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