GOFRUGAL STUDENT E-zine - Student Projects 2020-2021

Page 8

ABDIJ KONINGSHOEVEN Circular Beer Production

Circular Production Methods As you may imagine, a brewery uses vast amounts of water. You need seven liters of water to produce just one liter of beer. Beer itself is 90-95 percent water, but we also have to take into consideration all the other areas of beer production that utilise water, from brewing to flushing out the beer bottles before filling. This makes a brewery heavily dependable on the region’s water supply. However, water is not freely available and is actually a limited resource. Globally, our water supplies face severe climate challenges. Groundwater levels are descending quickly, including in water-rich countries like the Netherlands. At the Koningshoeven Abbey in the Netherlands, Trappist Monks - who make a living out of making the renowned ‘La Trappe’ beer - are looking into translating their austere and sustainable lifestyle into the beer production process.

90-95% WATER

A Biological Water Treatment Plant The brothers at the Koningshoeven Abbey developed the ‘Biomakerij’ together with the regional water board - Waterschap de Dommel. It is the first Dutch biological treatment plant that purifies wastewater thanks to tropical plants and microorganisms, and reuses every drop. This waste water comes from the abbey and the brewery located on the site. The purified water is immediately reused to prevent the soil around the abbey from drying out. Later, the water is used as rinse water for the bottles in the brewery. In this way, all the water stays at Koningshoeven, which means that the cycle is perfectly closed. The water treatment system also creates sludge – an organic material caught in the water treatment process – that can be used to recapture a vast array of resources for the further production of energy and food. Hence, the Abbey is looking into the construction of an anaerobic digester at the

brewery in order to further extend the recapture of resources through the creation of biogas. The sludge placed in the anaerobic digester not only creates biogas and enables the creation of electricity, but the remaining material that is left in the chamber after the biogas process is complete can be utilised as fertiliser.

The social perception of circular recovery systems The student team undertook an internship at Koningshoeven/La Trappe Abdij which focused on the social perception of the use of circular (water and energy) recovery systems in the brewing process. The same technology is already in place in the Abbey’s sister monastery in Uganda – Our Lady of Victoria Cistercian Monastery - where the water treatment system has been integrated with other