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Anheuser-Busch Signs MOU for Bio-Refinery Pilot

Anheuser-Busch and Blue Marble Biomaterials have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a bio-refinery pilot at one of the brewer’s North American facilities.

The project will use Blue Marble technology to convert spent grains and biogas from the brewing process into chemicals that can be used in other applications, such as food, cosmetics and personal care products. These renewable chemicals are drop-in replacements for petroleum-derived chemicals, which are common ingredients in everyday goods.

Company officials say this project will also reduce emissions and waste at each Anheuser-Busch facility where the project is implemented.

Blue Marble began testing small batches of Anheuser-Busch grain in early 2011 at the company’s pilot facility and continues to do so at its small commercial facility in Missoula, Mont. Blue Marble says its facility is the first zero-waste chemical biorefinery in the U.S.

The facility uses a photo-bioreactor containing algae to purify wastewater and waste gas from the fermentation system. Solid waste is dried and pelletized for use in wood-burning furnaces and stoves.

Anheuser-Busch’s utilities support director Gene Bocis says it’s too early to offer any additional project details. In a Dec. 19, 2011 letter, he called on Blue Marble to make a financial proposal outlining the expenses and projected revenue for a bio-refinery facility sited at an Anheuser-Busch brewery, as well as a financial proposal for natural sulfur capture.

Parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev increased its recycling rate relative to production by 24 percent in 2010, compared to 2009, according to its most recent Global Citizenship Report. Recycling of byproducts and organics accounted for most of the growth, and made up 89.2 percent of AB InBev’s waste and byproducts in 2010.

The company says it is on target to reach a goal of recycling 99 percent of waste and byproducts by the end of 2012.

AB InBev built or upgraded 12 biotreatment systems in 2010, enabling the use of waste water to produce methane for energy. The company plans to construct or upgrade another 20 facilities by the end of 2012.

The beer maker also has installed solar arrays on the roof of its Newark, N.J. and Fairfield, Calif. breweries, which it says makes it one of the largest users of solar power in the U.S. brewing industry.

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