Quality & Sustainability Feed

Brewhouse: Resource-saving malt extract production

The in-house malt extract production and its refinement belong to one of IREKS’ core competencies. In order to keep pace with the steadily increasing demand for malt extracts, in 2019, a double-digit million sum was invested in the – in many a respect – resource-saving construction of a new brewhouse.

That the demand for refined malt products is increasing is not least due to the fact that, as traditional natural products, they are positively associated in consumer perception under the keyword of “clean label”. Taking account of this development, IREKS has designed a new 35-metre-high building in accordance with the strictest hygienic standards and a view to increasing energy efficiency: a brewhouse in Kulmbach, Germany.

Optimisation of thermal processes saves 1000 t of CO2 per year

This is where the malt extract production is housed, including the evaporation columns required for it. The latter are heated with the waste heat from a specially built combined heat and power plant, whose efficiency of more than 90 % is twice as high as that of conventional power plants.                                                                                  

In extract production, the entire process is usually heated with steam and the vacuum required for evaporation is generated by a steam nozzle.

However, steam generation in the boiler house is very CO2-intensive. As part of its efficiency and climate protection efforts, IREKS has therefore opted for a different approach. The superior goal was to replace high-temperature steam from the boiler house as far as possible with hot water at a lower temperature from our combined heat and power plant.

In addition to the redesign of all process heaters, the evaporation surface and the evaporation distance in the evaporation columns in particular were considerably enlarged for this purpose. Instead of two, there are now four evaporation columns connected in series. Due to the enlarged exchanger surface and process section, the extraction can be operated more gently, and steam can be replaced by hot water. Only in the final stage of the fourth evaporation column is it not possible to do without steam for physical reasons.

The efforts and the higher construction and equipment cost have paid off; CO₂ emissions have been reduced by 1,000 t per year.

By investing in the new brewhouse, IREKS is not only producing in a more resource-efficient way, but also much more flexibly. The automation of production leads to an increase in availability and enables the greatest diversity in raw materials and recipes.