Funding to help brewers recycle waste products

The Duke of York at the West Notts College construction company in Kirkby
The Duke of York at the West Notts College construction company in Kirkby
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THE growth of Yorkshire’s microbrewing industry has been well documented, but the significant quantities of waste these brewers produce can be a burden.

Spent grains, hops and yeast are typically sold to local suppliers for little or no profit or even removed at a cost to the brewer.

However, these waste steams often contain high-value chemicals that can be extracted and reused in other industries.

The University of York’s Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) has been working with regional microbreweries such as Wold Top Brewery in East Yorkshire to investigate avenues for adding value to these waste streams by analysing the materials and developing processes to separate the valuable chemicals.

The breweries benefited from the BDC’s funded business support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which seeks to help firms develop innovative biorewables-based products and processes.

Dr Mark Gronnow, process development unit manager at the BDC, explained that hop oil, for example, can be used in flavour or fragrance industries such as in food or cosmetics to give the aroma of hops.

Yeast, meanwhile, can be turned into a waste water treatment agent or phospholipid chemicals can be extracted for use in cosmetics.

“The primary aim was to improve the profitability of the microbrewing process and their sustainability credentials”, he added.

Dr Gronnow was speaking to the Yorkshire Post as the BDC announced a new funding opportunity for Yorkshire and Humber-based SMEs wishing to explore commercial feasibility of bio-based projects. The Biorenewables Capital Grant Scheme (BCGS) is available to eligible SMEs to implement pilot-technologies in the biorenewables area and provides 64 per cent of the funding towards the purchase of capital equipment (up to £32,000 per SME), with the additional 36 per cent to be matched privately by the SME.

Available in three funding calls in 2014, the BCGS expects to fund around 26 projects, with a combined project value of £1m.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for regional SMEs to invest in innovative green technologies, for example by turning their plant or food wastes into useful products,” said Dr Fabien Deswarte, business development unit manager at the BDC. “The BCGS will allow SMEs to purchase key pieces of equipment to test proof of concept before committing to full-scale industrial development”.

The BCGS aims to support local businesses by providing access to technologies to convert plants, microbes and biowastes into profitable green products.

“The region is perfectly placed to drive innovations in biorenewables through its unique combination of industry, agriculture and world-class research”, said Dr Joe Ross, director at the BDC. “This funding provides an excellent opportunity to harness the region’s capabilities and help establish Yorkshire and the Humber as a leader in the bioeconomy, which, across Europe, has a reported worth of around 2 trillion euros”.

The BDC is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The centre, a not-for-profit company based at the University of York, was opened in July 2012 by Business Secretary Vince Cable.

The deadline for expressions of interest for the first call of the BCGS is March 3, 2014. Further details available at: www. biorenewables.org/business/funded-support

suzan.uzel@ypn.co.uk