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Scientists believe microcapsules would not only curb emissions, but also be a source of revenue for brewers.

June 27, 2017

Sure, beer is carbonated, but due to manufacturing processes and energy intake, producing beer usually ends up releasing way more carbon dioxide than a pint of the fizzy brew gives off. But Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, California, has a novel solution to the excess carbon dioxide problem: capture it into little capsules, cutting back the CO2 emissions by as much as 75%. The lab says the carbon capsules promise to be affordable enough that even small craft breweries will be able to make the move to go green.

The capsules use sodium bicarbonate, a.k.a.. baking soda, to absorb the carbon dioxide into a porous outer shell made of silicone. So, by using LLNL's microcapsule CO2 capture technology, craft breweries aren't just reducing their carbon footprint, they're also creating another product they can sell: the CO2 capsules themselves. These capsules can be used for, among other things, enhanced oil recovery. It's pretty much a win-win for the Earth and the breweries alike.

 Courtesy of John Vericella / LLNL

According to Lionel Keene, a scientist at LLNL, they went to a microbrewery in Paso Robles, California, and to find out why the brewery wasn't using any kind of carbon capture technology. As the LLNL team had suspected, the brewery told them that most of the technology out there is too unaffordable for smaller brewers. To combat that stigma, LLNL insists the microcapsule technology is way more efficient than other carbon capturing methods, and it's way more affordable than others.

As LLNL put it, this microcapsule carbon capture technology is "not a short-term solution to carbon capture, but a broad, sustainable approach." So basically, selling off little packages of carbon dioxide in addition to six packs might be the future of eco-friendly microbrewing.

With dozens of breweries popping up every year, it's no wonder many of them, like Deschutes Brewery which is installing it's own water treatment facility, are making moves to have little or no impact on the environment.