With the help of a TURI Small Business grant, Merrimack Ales in Lowell evaluated safer alternatives to caustic sodium hydroxide.
The small business tested how well electrochemical activation (ECA) technology works for cleaning and sanitizing equipment used during the beer brewing process. If effective, the technology could eliminate, or greatly reduce, caustic sodium hydroxide used for cleaning and the follow on acids used for sanitization. Read the case study for more details.
Results Encouraging, More Testing Underway
The results of this testing of ECA technology in the processing tanks at a microbrewery are encouraging. However, before investing in the technology, TURI and Merrimack Ales plan to undertake further study. Plans are under way to:
- Verify the standards of the current cleaning and sanitizing steps by performing bacteria plate count sampling between each step in the existing process to establish baseline bacteria levels;
- Test a 50% reduction in PBW alone (without the ECA catholyte) to determine the effectiveness of that change in the cleaning process and verifying with plate count sampling;
- Switch the order of the steps by starting with an acid wash followed by a non-caustic cleaner as employed by some breweries and verifying with plate count sampling; and
- Invite another ECA vendor with a small unit on the market to the site to learn about competing processes and costs.