Turning Beer Waste into Animal Feed

September 24, 2015

Featured, Technologies

Nutrients recovered from the MillerCoors LLC (Chicago) Trenton Brewery in Ohio are being converted into the protein ingredient called ProFloc™ that can replace fishmeal. Photo courtesy of Nutrinsic Corp. (Glendale, Colo.).

Nutrients recovered from the MillerCoors LLC (Chicago) Trenton Brewery in Ohio are being converted into the protein ingredient called ProFloc™ that can replace fishmeal. Photo courtesy of Nutrinsic Corp. (Glendale, Colo.).

When you crack open your next beverage from MillerCoors LLC (Chicago), you may not be the only species enjoying the product. Nutrients recovered from the MillerCoors Trenton Brewery in Ohio are being transformed into a protein for animal feed.

In May, Nutrinsic Corp. (Glendale, Colo.) opened a protein production facility co-located with the brewery’s water reclamation facility. Through a patented process, the facility creates an ecosystem where bacteria can thrive and convert nutrients into the protein ingredient called ProFloc™. This can replace fishmeal and has been “successfully tested [as feed for] a variety of aquatic and terrestrial animals,” said Meagan Wairama, marketing manager for Nutrinsic.

The Nutrinsic protein production facility is co-located with the brewery’s water reclamation facility. Photo courtesy of Nutrinsic Corp.

The Nutrinsic protein production facility is co-located with the brewery’s water reclamation facility. Photo courtesy of Nutrinsic Corp.

Nutrinsic approached MillerCoors to build the facility, which is capable of producing 5000 ton/yr of ProFloc™. By recovering and reusing nutrients, this process helps MillerCoors return clean water to the environment and eliminate the need to dispose of waste, according to a Nutrinsic news release.

“MillerCoors cares deeply about sustainability in all aspects of the brewing process and believes waste is a resource out of place,” said Denise Quinn, MillerCoors Trenton Brewery vice president. “We’re proud to partner with Nutrinsic to turn what was previously a waste stream into something of value.” The brewery has been reusing or recycling a majority of its waste since 2009, sending less than 1% to landfills each year, the news release says.

A microwave is used for the final round of sterlization prior to packaging ProFloc. Photo courtesy of Nutrinsic Corp.

A microwave is used for the final round of sterlization prior to packaging ProFloc. Photo courtesy of Nutrinsic Corp.

Before installation, the factory’s water treatment process had to be modified to allow biological conversion of leftover nutrients and carbohydrates into protein. “This is accomplished by providing the existing naturally occurring bacteria with additional nitrogen and micronutrients to supplement the underutilized nutrients in the process water, catalyzing the production of large amounts of protein efficiently,” Wairama said.

A Nutrinsic employee packages the final protein product, ProFloc, developed at the brewery.  Photo courtesy of Nutrinsic Corp.

A Nutrinsic employee packages the final protein product, ProFloc, developed at the brewery. Photo courtesy of Nutrinsic Corp.

The nutrient supplementation step, which is not typical in traditional aerobic water treatment, makes the technology unique. The technology also limits the mean cell retention time in aerated basins, allowing young cells at their peak protein levels to be harvested, she added. Harvesting these cells involves mechanical dewatering, drying, sterilizing, and packaging.

Nutrinsic packages and sells ProFloc to companies looking to replace fishmeal in various animal feed products.. “It has been successfully fed to cattle, pigs, poultry and several aquatic species,” Wairama said. “It has a high digestibility rating and is highly palatable to a number of terrestrial and aquatic species.” ProFloc goes through a very particular process to ensure the feed is safe for animals, and every batch is tested at the company’s on-site laboratory before it is shipped. Selling the product has helped offset the cost of the project to build and run the facility and has begun to turn a profit, she explained.

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

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