According to some estimates, around 27 billion pints of beer are consumed worldwide each year. For breweries, in order to ensure the taste and quality of products, hygiene requirements play an important role in the production of beer. The importance of hygiene in beer production equals to that in bottled water production and milk production. Traditional sterilization methods adopted by breweries are usually energy-intensive, chemical-dependent and water-demanding. But things have changed with the gradual popularity of brewery ozone sterilization. Ozone sterilization in breweries can save time and be more economical, thus reducing the cost of enterprises. Before introducing the detailed applications of ozone in breweries, it is necessary to take a look at some knowledge about hygiene and sterilization, as well as the dangers of chemical sterilization.
About Hygiene and Sterilization
Not only in brewery ozone sterilization, the goal of any sterilization operations is to limit the presence of bacteria or contaminants. But in operation, we may possibly confuse clean, sanitize and sterilize. Just being clean is not sanitized or sterilized. Here are the exact definitions of these three words:
Clean just means that no foreign matters or dust is visible to the naked eye.
Sanitize means to reduce the number of bacteria or microorganisms by physical or chemical means. But it is almost impossible to be thorough.
Sterilize means to achieve the goal of not having any living things alive by physical or chemical means, including bacteria and microorganisms.
The thorough elimination of all bacteria or microorganisms can only be achieved or approached through the sterilization, while cleaning and sanitizing, on the other hand can only be as close as possible to sterilization. In operation, chemical sterilization is better than physical method in thoroughness. But the chemical sterilization in breweries also has certain problems, and sometimes, such problems can be dangers. Next, let’s look at the dangers of chemical sterilization in breweries.
Dangers of Chemical Sterilization in Breweries
As preventive measures, chlorine, acid, boiling water or high temperature steam can all be adopted by beer producers as sterilization methods for equipment. However, these sterilization methods bring a series of problems, including increased energy consumption, increased operation procedures, increased storage costs, the production of chemical residues, etc. What’s more, due to the unsafe sterilization methods adopted, the products of certain beer producers have caused huge health problems to consumers. Here are a few examples:
A Massachusetts woman was burned by acidic solution used for pipeline cleaning because of the lack of subsequent cleaning.
A man from Ohio suffered burns to his mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach and intestines from drinking contaminated beer. As a result, he had to undergo surgery to remove parts of his internal organs, which was at a cost of $30,000.
In 2017, a beer manufacturer lost $750,000 because of a jury verdict. A man was seriously injured after drinking beer from that factory. It was beer that had caused the damage to his digestive tract. He was in hospital for six days and underwent surgery to remove 25 % of his stomach wall. It was later confirmed that the incident was caused by acidic chemicals used in the brewery’s production line cleaning.
There are many more examples of such accidents. This has brought great health concerns to consumers, but also brought certain economic losses to enterprises. It has even become a recurrent expenditure of some beer production enterprises. From these examples, we can see that the use of chemical treatment as a means of sterilization requires the enterprises to be particularly careful in the application. This takes time and leaves open the possibility that things could go wrong. This will then cause the loss of business.
Ozone is an ideal sterilization solution for the safe production of food compared with the solutions containing chlorine or acids. To ensure the quality of beer, its bottling and clean-in-place requires a higher level of sterilization. Beer brewing equipment such as pipes, fermenters and cooling tanks are required to meet high standards of hygiene. Residues of organic compounds generated during fermentation also need to be thoroughly cleaned up. In these locations, with its strong oxidizing property, brewery ozone sterilization will be the best choice to do the work. Ozone not only removes unwanted chemicals from beer without affecting the taste of the product, it also thoroughly sterilizes its production equipment. For more details about ozone and what ozone can do, please go to our blog: An Introduction of Ozone. In the following, we will take a look at some of the advantages beer manufacturers can get from ozone sterilization.
Advantages of Brewery Ozone Sterilization
Breweries provide great conditions for yeast growth in beer, which also promote the growth of microbes such as bacteria or wild yeast. Therefore, hygiene is crucial in this industry. Cleanliness of the equipment should be paid attention to in every phase of the brewing process. The advantages of brewery ozone sterilization are as follows:
- Ozone as an organic fungicide can simplify the sterilization process. At the same time, compared with the traditional sterilization methods, the use of ozone will be more economic, more efficient, and safer. Also, by using ozone, more water and energy will be saved too. It is also more environment-friendly.
- Ozone, as a cold fungicide, can shorten the cooling cycle of the products and reduce the maintenance work for the bottling line.
- For killing bacteria, fungi, mold, yeast, spores and other microorganisms, ozone has a much broader killing spectrum. It is hundreds, even thousands of times faster in efficiency than chlorine sterilization.
- Compared with traditional hypochlorite, peracetic acid and other chemicals, ozone has a higher microbial inactivation potential. So, when applied, its sterilization time and concentration can be significantly reduced.
- Ozone sterilization does not produce TCA precursors and dangerous THM which are often produced in the sterilization when chlorine and iodine compounds are used.
- Ozone is also effective in removing compounds that produce unpleasant odors and tastes. Odor removal is one of the most important applications of ozone. No matter for kitchen or bathroom, ozone can quickly do the odor elimination work. It is also super-efficient in removing odors in cars, furniture, clothing, and even pets.
- The pH value of ozone is neutral, which means it will not cause any influence on the acid-base balance in the production environment of the factory.
- Ozone does not produce any harmful residues during its sterilization. The ozone left over from the reaction will quickly return to oxygen.
- The use of ozone is generated on a just-in-time basis, which avoids the economic costs and risks associated with storage and disposal in the use of chemicals.
- The safe use of ozone has been recognized by authoritative institutions. In 1997, ozone was recognized as a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) fungicide by the FDA. In 2000, ozone was approved under the USDA’s Organic Regulations. In 2001, ozone was approved by the FDA as a food additive in fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry.
How is Ozone Applied in Breweries?
Brewery ozone sterilization can achieve a full coverage of equipment sterilization in beer production enterprises. Ozone can be used in the brewery to sterilize a variety of equipment involved in the fermentation process, thereby controlling the growth of microorganisms, mold and mildew, etc. Locations involved in this process include:
1. Fermentation Tank
Beer fermenters can be cleaned efficiently and quickly by using ozone. The use of ozone can save hundreds of gallons of water in the process. If chlorine and acids are used, additional cleaning will be required after sterilizing the fermentation tank in order to remove residues. The use of ozone can eliminate the need for such cleaning work and thus does not cause any damage to the fermentation tank.
2. Beer Kegs
For the cleaning of beer kegs, ozone can replace previously used chemicals or hot water, making it a better choice. And ozone-treated beer kegs do not need to be rinsed with water later.
3. Bottling and Canning Lines
In the past, parts and components of the beer bottling and canning lines were subjected to stress and damage due to the use of sterilization methods with heat. But ozone water is used at room temperature. So, such problems can be easily solved. It also reduces the downtime of the equipment and the cost for machine maintenance.
4. Treat All Kinds of Pipelines, Pumps and Valves
There are so many kinds of pipelines, pumps and valves involved in a beer production line. Ozone can effectively sterilize these components, thereby avoiding the presence of harmful microorganisms that may cause deterioration in products.
Filters in a beer production line also need to be sterilized. Ozone sterilization can remove harmful microorganisms in filters and avoid any other subsequent cleaning work.
6. Environmental Sterilization
The environmental sterilization here includes the sterilization of the air, ground, walls, sewers and any corners. Treating these areas with ozone water can significantly reduce microbes such as bacteria and fungi. In addition to the direct killing of harmful microorganisms, ozone is also capable of removing peculiar odors caused by the existence of microorganisms.
In the above, we have introduced the advantages of brewery ozone sterilization and locations where ozone can be applied for sterilization in breweries. Next, we can summarize the economic benefits of ozone sterilization in breweries.
Economic Benefits of Brewery Ozone Sterilization
Although brewery ozone sterilization has many advantages over traditional sterilization methods, not all beer manufacturers are willing to adopt this method. The main reason for this situation is the economic investment. It is the large economic investment that stops them from taking action. The problem is that what they have seen is the relatively large economic cost in purchasing ozone sterilization equipment. They didn’t consider the greater cost in traditional sterilization solutions in the long run.
In traditional sterilization methods, the use of chemicals involves recurrent purchase, storage, and other related costs. Secondly, since the use of corrosive chemicals will have a negative impact on the equipment, there will always be cost generated from the advanced replacement of parts and components of equipment and personnel maintenance. Ozone solution will be better since ozone is generated on site. There will be no demand for storage condition like chemicals. And no residues will be produced in and after the treatment. All these benefits lead to a much lower maintenance cost. It is beneficial for the long-term stable operation of the equipment.