Bühler and Vyncke form sustainability-focused partnership

Published: 4-Mar-2021

The companies have begun a project in Uruguay to save one of Bühler’s business partners 35,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year at a malt production facility

Bühler Group and Vyncke are partnering on a sustainability service where customers’ biomass side stream products are transformed into clean process energy. In some cases, through this service, food plants can become carbon neutral, the companies claim. The first focus of the partnership is the segments of cocoa, oat, and malt processing.

“This partnership is a key element in our strategy to massively reduce CO2 in the value chains of our customers,” said Johannes Wick, CEO of Bühler Grains & Food. “Many industries rely on our solutions to reduce their fossil fuel consumption. With Bühler, we now aim to also become the standard to reduce the CO2 footprint of the food industry,” said Peter Vyncke, owner of Vyncke.

Biomass by-products are generated in almost all food processes. Typical examples are the processing of grains, rice, corn, and cocoa. They’re often either used for animal feed or simply disposed of. From biomass by-products, food manufacturers can also produce a climate-neutral form of energy. Unlike the combustion of fossil fuels, the use of biomass energy helps control greenhouse gas emissions as the CO2 released corresponds to what the plants previously took from the atmosphere during their growth, which is less than transporting the side stream products to a place where they would be used for feed or disposal, the companies say.

Vyncke designs and builds energy systems that combust biomass and waste to produce thermal process energy from 1-100 megawatt hours (Mwh) and electrical energy from 0.5-15 megawatt electrical (Mwe).

“Today, we are far from exploiting the full potential of recovering energy from side stream products. Our goal is to reduce the energy consumption of a food plant by up to 70%. The beauty of our solutions is that sustainability and economic criteria go hand in hand. Today, we are already enabling our customers to reduce emissions by 2.5 million tons of CO2 annually. By partnering with Bühler, we can further improve and scale these solutions in an integrated approach to create a much larger positive impact,” says Peter Vyncke.

One of the partnership’s projects is the expansion of a malt production plant for Bühler's business partner, Malteria Oriental in Uruguay. The company’s brewing business requires more malt, as beer consumption in South America has grown steadily in recent years.

In the project, Vyncke will be responsible for recovering thermal energy from biomass, which is a by-product of malt production. Through an on-site energy audit, Vyncke developed a set-up to reduce the size of the energy system by 30%, creating savings in the total investment as well as the operational costs. Vyncke will build a superheated water boiler with dual combustion systems which will burn internal barley husks and plant rejects, completed by externally sourced wood chips. This will save 35,000 tons of CO2 emissions each year compared to standard operational practices in Uruguay, the companies claim.

“By working closely together, we aim to execute projects with less coordination effort for our customer. Our joint innovative strength will drive us into the future and our customers will have ever better and more efficient solutions at their disposal,” said Johannes Wick.

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