John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
“Brewtroleum” is reportedly the first-ever fuel produced from used yeast.
Beer—is there anything it can’t do?
You can chug it to improve the watchability of baseball, use it to de-ice roads, and now even power your car with it, thanks to the New Zealand biofuel “Brewtroleum.” The ethanol used in the greener gas, which was dreamed up by DB Export, is derived from leftovers of the brewing process, chiefly grain and yeast.
The company calls it the “world’s first commercially available biofuel” derived from beer, and an Internet search seems to confirm the boast. However, researchers have long dreamed of manufacturing a suds-based fuel. The stuff produces a lot fewer greenhouse gases than petroleum. And making ethanol with fermentation waste is reportedly better for the planet than relying on standard production methods, such as growing vast fields of corn.
This week, drivers in Auckland lined up at a gas station to fill their tanks with the brew juice, which DB Export claims emits 8 percent less carbon than gasoline. (Though the customers might have been environmentalists, the offer of a free $50 fill-up probably helped improve the turnout.) Stocks of “Brewtroleum” are expected to run out in about six weeks, though the company is toying with making more. Reports Stuff:
DB head of domestic beer marketing Sean O’Donnell said the idea to create the biofuel came about six months ago.
“Our brewers at DB Export were talking about what we can do with the waste, and one of them said we could make a biofuel,” O'Donnell said.
“This is a genuinely exciting opportunity. It’s a world-first, we’re helping Kiwis save the world by doing what they enjoy best—drinking beer.
“If you were to fuel your car with biofuel over a year it would be over 250 tonnes of carbon emission you would be saving.”
Yet to be seen is whether this beery biofuel will trigger a rash of yeast thieves, a la those grease bandits who raid restaurants for their used cooking oil.