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Monks apply space technology to make beer-brewing more sustainable


The monks of La Trappe Abbey brewery in the Netherlands decided to renovate their factory and achieve more sustainable use of water in the beer-brewing process. In their quest for optimal measures, they turned to the suite of techniques developed by the European Space Agency (ESA). Their project secured funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, and earned the innovation prize of 2018 by the Dutch councils of municipal water.

Image credit: ESA

ESA’s Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative project (MELISSA) was initiated in 1989 and is now a consortium of 30 organizations across Europe, working together to develop technology that will support human-friendly ecosystems in space. However, before migrating to other planets, resourceful humans are already applying this know-how to improve life on Earth. From water purification in Morocco to water recycling in Antarctica it found its way to bioreactors and, now, breweries. In the factory of La Trappe, water recovery and purification procedures will employ a system of membranes, photobioreactors, plants and bacteria. The million cubic metres of wastewater, that the facility produces per year, will no longer be directed to municipal processing stations but will instead be used for irrigation and for cleaning beer bottles.

The new system will reduce water consumption at the brewery by 80% and limit the factory’s energy consumption as well. According to ESA officials, this technology can just as easily be adopted to other industrial units or touristic facilities.

This adds another dimension to “drinking responsibly”. Cheers, and Amen!

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