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The Conference Podium, 18 September 1997

The Proposed ZERI Microbrewery
at The Earth Centre, UK


The concept is to develop a waste utilisation process by the integration of several eco-technological mechanisms arranged in series, to absorb energy and nutrients for recycling within the system as saleable products. The waste stream chosen was that of an organic brewery waste effluent. The process has also been designed to consider land space restrictions and geographical climate conditions within the United Kingdom


The Zero Emission Research Initiative (ZERI) is a global research project co-ordinated by the United Nations University (UNU) , dedicated to the research and demonstration of zero emission industries. The Microbrewery constitutes a partnership between The Earth Centre and the UNU and is recognised as one of the European pilot plant's for the Brewery-Aquaculture-Greenhouse (BAG) sub programme.

Aims & Objectives

The Microbrewery will be a 'State of the Art' facility incorporating a small beer production unit, algae cultivation, enclosed freshwater fish farming and hydroponic horticulture. The principle aim of the Microbrewery is to provide a practical demonstration of a zero-emission production process, generating a wide variety of marketable products in an accessible, entertaining manner, whilst complementing and supporting the visions and values of The Earth Centre.

The principle objectives are to demonstrate:

Current Status (1997)

The feasibilty phase of the Microbrewery project is now complete and consisted of a series of planning meetings with representative input from:

This has resulted in a modelling and collation programme of relevant data to a systematic 'Statement of Need' compiled for integration into The Earth Centre construction programme. The Microbrewery is intended to commence operation by Autumn 1998.

The Process

The three recognised waste streams in activity order are as follows:

Spent grain » Mushroom cultivation » Composting » Land remediation


Hot waste liquid » Heat extraction »

Algae production »

Freshwater fish culture »

Hydroponic horticulture »

Outer building reed bed water polishing


Waste gases » Hydroponic plant feed

Description of main activities


The Microbrewery element consists of a five batch brewery ( 2 brews per week) producing five barrels of beer per brew. (Approx. 820l ) The waste water ( with a Biochemical Oxygen Demand (B.O.D) up to 1800 mg/l ) generated by the brewing process is around five times the beer output (Approx. 4100 l ), with the other wastes being 96 kg of spent grains and 7 kg of yeast per brew. Approximately 500,000J of energy is available for re-use and 26m3 of Carbon Dioxide.

Algae Bio-reactor The liquid waste will be largely channelled into a Algae Bio-reactor, an intensive algae production system where the resultant medium can be utilised as a fish feed. The algae production reduces the B.O D. sufficiently to enable the output water to be of sufficient quality for fish culture.

Design specifications for optimum internal environment

Freshwater fish culture The Aquaculture element will principally culture Tilapia, a native African herbivore which has increasing market value in the U.K. The fish will be cultured in rows of hanging bags of water stacked three tiers high. Stocking densities of up to 30 kg/m2 will be practised to maximise production without compromising overall fish welfare. Feed requirements for the Tilipia will be supplied by modules within the microbrewery, particularly the brewery waste, algae and horticulture waste.
Design specifications for optimum internal environment:

Hydroponic Horticulture The waste water from the aquaculture module will contain Nitrogen and Phosphorous, released in fish excreta and leached out of uneaten food. These wastes will be used as an organic fertiliser for hydroponic crops particularly tomato. Hydroponic horticulture will also utilise the majority of Carbon Dioxide produced during the brewing process.

Design specifications for optimum internal environment (Tomato):

Mushroom Culture The solid brewery waste is an excellent medium for mushroom cultivation. Two varieties have been suggested as particularly suitable being Hericium ecrinaceus (Monkey Head Mushroom) and Lentinus Edodes (Shiitake).

Design specifications for optimum internal environment:

Practical considerations

Size & Location:

The energy efficient building will be hopefully located into a hillside, with a south-westerly facing aspect. The total internal floor surface will be 150m2.

Space requirement for main activities

Automated Environmental Management System:

A central dedicated computer network will be installed to monitor, control and attain an optimum integrated environment for each main activity.

Quantity of goods produced (Estimated)


Stephen Bedford Clark held the post of Director of Freshwater Ecology at The Earth Centre for a period of 2.5 years. He has also developed Gunter Pauli's concept of a ZERI research initiative at The Earth Centre and over the past two years has continued to co-ordinate the project. His previous background has been in the field of freshwater aquaculture, designing and operating fish production units in the USA and Europe. Stephen is particularly interested in innovative fish species for human applications and ecological systems, particularly with respect to their role in sustainable development. Address: 7, Ballam Avenue, Scawthorpe, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom DN5 9DY. sbc@fishace.demon.co.uk

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