Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of alcohol fermentation that has to be vented during brewing and added later in the carbonation process. Purification of the off-gas carbon dioxide is required to remove aromatic compounds as well as oxygen, which can produce off flavors, before it can be used to carbonate the beer.
The project undertaken by iBrew is to understand the batch-based chemistry of the brewing process and how scale-up effects feasibility of chemistry as well as economics. Challenges associated with the project include identification of impurities, research of separations methods, and modeling fermentation kinetics.
Experimental data, collected from the fermentation tanks of Harmony Brewing Company, is compared to the rate laws found through research and simulated in a design software called Super Pro Designer. The team also worked closely with the Calvin College Chemistry department to determine composition of the off-gasses using GC/MS analytical equipment.