Case study 5:

 Lleida, Spain & Ostrava, Czech Republic

Water recycling in the beverage industry

Setting out to reshape the beverage industry and advance the sector’s circular economy by improving water reuse, nutrient and energy recovery

Aqualia compares the performance of two bioreactor prototypes at the Mahou San Miguel brewery, an Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor (AnMBR) and an ElectroStimulated Anaerobic Reactor (ELSAR®). The process includes advanced tertiary plants to guarantee safe water production to be reused. Both prototypes have the potential to establish new industry benchmarks for water reuse, energy and material recovery. Researchers aim to maximise the performance of both bioreactors. Treated water will be polished by innovative membrane-based systems to be reused in the brewery for cooling towers. The aim is to minimize water consumption to fit with the environmental objectives of the brewery.

Breweries can also generate biogas from the organic matter contained in the wastewater, which can cover a lot of the brewery’s electricity demand. To make full use of this chemical energy contained in wastewater, the anaerobic bioreactors´ performance is optimised. This includes optimization of operation mode as well as the production of electricity and heat in an eco-efficient and sustainable way by using a high-performance fuel cell. Using anaerobic technologies will lead to significant energy savings and a source of green biofuel (biomethane and biohydrogen).

Brewery wastewater is also rich in nutrients that can help produce fertiliser. A concept study is being conducted to assess materials recovery strategies from compounds in brewery wastewater and to find suitable value chains.

The implementation of innovative processes at industrial and urban facilities will demonstrate new ways to maximize benefits from residual streams to obtain high quality water, valuable byproducts and bioenergy.

Key innovations & actions

  • Water reuse after secondary treatment
  • Concept study for nutrient recovery
  • Increased yield in biogas production



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