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Last year, craft beer maker Young Henrys installed new vats at its Sydney brewery. Not the stainless steel kind it normally uses for creating hazy pales and hoppy porters, but see-through containers filled with a fluorescent green fluid. Absinthe, perhaps...? Nope, algae.
Working with scientists from University of Technology Sydney's Climate Change Cluster, Young Henrys is using bioreactors filled with microalgae (aka phytoplankton) to cut its CO2 emissions. CO2 is naturally released during the brewing process, when brewer's yeast eats sugar and produces both alcohol and carbon dioxide. Part of that CO2 generates beer's natural fizz. The excess is tapped off the brewing vat and fed into a bioreactor where microalgae consume the CO2 and create both more algae and oxygen, which can then be released into the air instead of climate warming CO2.
Young Henrys and the university are looking into what to do with the algae, but possible uses include bio plastics, plant fertilizer and livestock feed.