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AB InBev adopts sustainable approach to brewing in China

Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), New York, and energy solutions provider GE, Fairfield, Conn., have formed a strategic alliance to develop innovative manufacturing solutions that are designed to drive energy efficiency and water savings in existing and “greenfield” AB InBev facilities across China.

AB InBev has defined key performance indicators related to energy use, water use and carbon dioxide emissions. With clear 2012 objectives to reduce the water-to-beer ratio to 3.5, reduce energy usage aggressively, and decrease carbon dioxide output and reliance on traditional energy sources through the use of biogas and natural gas, AB InBev sought a partner with global reach and a dedicated approach to the challenges facing the brewing industry. A centralized food and beverage solutions organization and “Customer Innovation Centers” designed to better serve China’s western, northern, central and southern markets made GE an ideal partner, AB InBev says.

Working together, AB InBev and GE engineering resources will establish an “Innovation Team” to understand AB InBev’s processes and challenges. This insight will enable the team to define clear solutions that can be implemented and piloted in designated AB InBev locations, with successes taken to AB InBev plants in China.  

With AB InBev’s 2012 goals in mind, this partnership will initially focus on designing and implementing several key solutions. For example, the team will implement energy management solutions that use advanced software systems to provide insight into the level of energy and water used, enabling visibility into potential energy and water losses, while allowing for a better understanding of where improvements can be made.

Additionally, combined heat and power solutions that use gas engines will enable several AB InBev pilot sites to create electricity through either biogas or natural gas. With these engines achieving energy efficiency levels of 70 to 90 percent, the utilization of energy is dramatically improved. Waste-to-value solutions also will enable efficient use of water and energy normally left over from the manufacturing process, the company says.

AB InBev and GE teams will work together to optimize these solutions and define additional solutions throughout the partnership.

This initiative is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 100,000 tons a year in addition to reducing water and energy consumption, according to the companies.

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