497-221 Spent Grains

Tuesday 2-4:50 PM
Phil Lewis


Micro Breweries have been expanding in the Chicago area for several years.
The process of brewing beer creates a by-product of wet grain where sugars and
flavors have been extracted in order to make a tasteful beer. Disposal of the
“Spent Grain’ is expensive and inconvenient in addition to being wasteful.
Previous IPRO’s have investigated the problem and concluded the “Best”
solution was to dry the grain on site. Current drying equipment is large and
expensive making it not suitable to a Micro Brewers volume of grain and minimal
space constraints. This project is to investigate the brewing process and
equipment focusing primarily on the handling and fermentation of spent grain by-
product. The 2021 Spring IPRO project will be to develop a least expensive and
compact efficient drying process. Previous investigations found small machinery
that reduces the amount of water to about 45% but the spent grain still degrades
at this moisture level. Spent grain needs to be at approximately 14% moisture to
be stable enough to store long term. The Spring 2021 IPRO project will focus
on drying a Microbreweries spent grain. Participating Students will familiarize
themselves with the problem by touring the Breweries and talking with Master
Brewers. Initial investigation will be to look at the problem having two
components 1) An affordable/compact centrifugal process to strip the grain of
most of its moisture. 2) An affordable/compact dryer to further dry the centrifugal
grain to < 14%. If drying could be achieved, the spent grain would be free of the
fermentation timeline and hence would become an asset not a liability that could
be marketed to a wide variety of product channels. Participating students will
become familiar with the micro brewing process and will apply their academic
skills to create an integrated mechanical solution to drying spent grain. In
addition students will investigate market channels for the rendered grain.

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