Solid biofuel production by mechanical pre-treatment of brewers' spent grain

Andreas Weger*, Samir Binder, Matthias Franke, Andreas Hornung, Winfried Ruß, Wolfgang Mayer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The brewing industry produces large amounts of by-products and wastes like brewers' spent grain (BSG). In Germany, each year approximately 2.1 million tonnes of BSG are generated. During the last years conventional routes of BSG utilization face a remarkable change, such as the decline in the demand as animal feed. Due to its high content of organic matter energetic utilization may create an additional economic value for breweries. Furthermore, in the recent past breweries tend to shift their energy supply towards more sustainable concepts. Although, a decent number of research projects were carried out already, still no mature strategy is available. However, one possible solution can be the mechanical pretreatment of BSG. This step allows optimized energy utilization by the fractionation of BSG. Due to the transfer of digestible components, such as protein, to the liquid phase, the solid phase will largely consist of combustible components. That represents an opportunity to produce a solid biofuel with lower fuelnitrogen content compared to only thermal dried BSG. Therefore, two main purposes for the mechanical pre-treatment were determined, (1) to reduce the moisture content to at least 60 % (w/w) and (2) to diminish the protein content of the solid phase by 30 %. Moreover, the combustion trials should demonstrate whether stable processes and flue gas emissions within the legal limits in Germany are feasible. The results of the mechanical pre-treatment trials showed that a decrease of the moisture and protein content has been achieved. With regard to the combustion trials inconsistent outcomes were found. On the one hand a stable combustion was realized. On the other hand the legal emission levels of NOx (500 mgm -3) and dust (50 mgm-3) could not be kept during all trials. The further research steps will focus on the optimization of the air/fuel ratio by reducing the primary and secondary air conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-666
Number of pages6
JournalChemical Engineering Transactions
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2014, AIDIC Servizi S.r.l.

Funding: Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety for funding of the project "Optimized energetic utilization of a wet waste (brewer's spent grain) through combination of biological, mechanical and thermal processes" (grand funding code: 03KB038).


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