Magic Hat Brewery in South Burlington has incorporated new technology that turns its excess waste into energy.
PurposeEnergy, a start-up company located in Waltham, Mass., has created a beer digester that converts ingredients in unutilized beer. It sold the first machine of its kind to Magic Hat.
Eric Fitch, CEO of PurposeEnergy and inventor of the digester, said the invention uses bacteria to break down by-products.
Fitch said he realized Magic Hat could use PurposeEnergy as much as PurposeEnergy could use Magic Hat, which is why he chose the local brewer as the first in the country to test the new technology.
“They have a really high byproduct production rate,” Fitch said. “It’s becoming more challenging for these breweries to get rid of these by-products.”
St. Michael’s professor of biology Valerie Banschbach said the technological innovation is beneficial to the environment because if the waste were to be disposed in a dump to decompose, there would be a major release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Banschbach said in other countries, such as India, homeowners are able to buy their own versions of digesters that turn their wastes into energy to generate power in their daily lives. She said America should adopt this as well.
“I think it would be cool if the technology could be scaled down so it would be available to individual homeowners [in America],” she said.
Other breweries in the area have looked into creative methods to save energy as well.
Mike Paone, promotions specialist for Harpoon Brewery said the company has considered adopting technology similar to Fitch’s invention but instead uses other energy-saving techniques.
“Magic Hat is larger than us and have a lot more resources,” Paone said.
Harpoon has two brewery locations: Boston and Windsor, Vt.
Paone said because the company is split into two states, it would have to install two digesters, which would be expensive.
Paone said Harpoon saves energy in other ways by conserving electricity.
Fitch said he wanted to sell his technology to a brewery which met two specifications: production of over 100,000 barrels per year and a location within driving distance. Magic Hat met the requirements because it produces over 150,000 barrels annually.
Fitch said that the technology has been a great success at Magic Hat so far and he plans to sell his invention to other breweries by the end of 2011.