SABMiller to brew more beer with less water

Home Business SABMiller to brew more beer with less water

By Staff Reporter

WINDHOEK – SABMiller, the world’s second largest brewer, says it will use innovative technologies to conserve water usage at its first ever brewery in Namibia, currently under construction in Okahandja town.  Okahandja, which is about 65 kilometres north of Windhoek, is supplied with water from the Von Bach Dam, a reservoir dam that is a source of water to other settlements including Windhoek. 

“Some of the technologies are as broad as overall beer loss reduction in the process of brewing beer, which improves the efficiency of the overall brewing process, thus resulting in improved water usage numbers and also in the selection of a high efficiency packaging line. Two of the big water usage and energy savings include the use of different pasteurisation technologies and the use of water cascade principles,” said Bogart Butler, the Technical Manager of SABMiller Namibia. 

The SABMiller Namibia brewery at Okahandja plans to use 3,25 hectolitres (hl) of water for every hectolitre of beer produced in its first year of operation with its 2018 target being 3,10 hl. One hectolitre is equal to 100 litres. The brewery’s start-up consumption rate of 3,25 hl is made up of 1 hl of beer that exits and 2,25 hl of water used in the brewing of the beer.  The 2,25hl used covers water usage that does not enter the final product, but is consumed in activities such as cleaning of vessels, pipelines, bottles and crates, provision of steam, refrigeration and purified carbon dioxide from the fermentation process and water packing of the pipelines between pushes of beer from tank to tank. 

This water is soiled to varying levels, depending on the use to which it is put, and the water which SABMiller Namibia believes can be re-used in other parts of the plant is reused a second time before entering the effluent stream.  

Steam usage results in condensation of the steam back into water, and the return of this condensate back to the boilers is very important in terms of ensuring that as little “new” water as possible is used in steam generation – to this end condensate return targets of between 85 and 90 percent will be sought. 

In addition to the robust water management in the brewery, there is the added impact on a broader environmental front with SABMiller Namibia being able to reduce its carbon footprint due to a new focus on transport of raw materials rather than the more energy consumptive transport of final product.

“In the SABMiller rankings of breweries for water usage for its comparable size – all breweries in SABMiller producing less than 1 000 000 hectolitres – the Okahandja brewery will rank 6th once it achieves its design water use ratio (3,25 hl/hl). This is particularly notable given that the Okahandja brewery also ranks within the lower 25 percent of this size range, being a 260 000 hl per annum brewery. All of the breweries ranked 1-5 are much larger than Okahandja and four of these are 1 000 000 hls in size. These figures indicate that we will have a world class facility,” the company said in a statement.

The company said the water saving initiatives will make the beer less costly to produce in the long term and this is able to be passed to the consumer in the form of being able to contain price increases in future years. “We are committed to safeguarding our beautiful nation’s scarcest resource by carefully managing our water consumption,” said Cobus Bruwer the Managing Director of SABMiller Namibia.