Bühler Group and Vyncke collaborate strategically to provide integrated solutions with which biomass side stream products are transformed into clean process energy while alleviating the customers’ carbon footprint. The reliance on fossil fuels can decrease CO2 emissions by even 100% based on the raw material and side stream products. This means that in some cases, food plants can become fully carbon neutral. The first goal of the partnership is the segments of cocoa, oat, and malt processing.

Johannes Wick, CEO of Bühler grains and food stated- “This association is a key element in our strategy to enormously cut down CO2 in the value chains of our customers. Many industries depend on our solutions to alleviate their fossil fuel consumption. With Bühler, we now target to also become the standard to lower the CO2 footprint of the food industry.”

Peter Vyncke, owner, Vyncke commented- “Together, Bühler and Vyncke can now provide integrated and optimized solutions where economic and ecological benefits go hand in hand.”

Biomass by-products are generated in almost all food processes. Typical examples include the processing of grains, rice, corn, and cocoa. Today, by-products are often either utilized for animal feed or simply disposed of. From biomass by-products, food manufacturers can also generate a climate-neutral form of energy. Unlike the combustion of fossil fuels, the use of biomass energy assists in controlling greenhouse gas emissions. This sets up a neutral CO2 cycle. With new equipment, digital services and retrofit offerings, the group already made robust progress in making its solutions more energy efficient.

“By adding Vyncke’s energy recovery processes to our portfolio, we can give our customers low- to zero-carbon food solutions,” added Wick.

The company specializes in energy production from a wide array of biomass by-products, including industrial or municipal wastes. The range of biomass-based fuels available for energy production is diverse; from agricultural and wood residues to sludges from industrial processes, recycled wood, and specially grown energy crops. The company creates and establishes green & clean energy systems that combust biomass and waste to generate thermal process energy from 1-100 megawatt hours (Mwh) and electrical energy from 0.5-15 megawatt electrical (Mwe).

Outside of energy-intensive industries, most companies have tended to see energy procurement as a cost to be managed rather than a strategic area in the value chain. Yet today, energy is becoming one of the most significant levers for business success. This partnership will be addressing this issue to formulate solutions for more sustainable food production – with holistic process chains in which energy recovery is integrated so that external energy consumption and energy costs can be decreased thus contributing to greater sustainability and also opening competitive advantages for food producers via greater energy efficiency.

“Today, we are far from exploiting the full potential of recovering energy from side stream products. Our aim is to decrease the energy consumption of a food plant by upto 70%. Today, we are already allowing our customers to cut down emissions by 2.5 million tons of CO2 annually. By joining forces with Bühler, we can further enhance and scale these solutions in an integrated manner to create a much larger positive influence,” Vyncke said.

One of the important joint projects will be the diversification of a malt production plant for the group’s long-haul business partner, Malteria Oriental S.A. in Montevideo, Uruguay. Malteria Oriental S.A. belongs to the Grupo Petrópolis, one of Brazil’s largest beer producers.

In malt houses, the thermal energy consumption for drying malt is massive. In the project, the company will be recovering thermal energy from biomass, which is a by-product of malt production. Through an on-site energy audit, the company developed a set-up to decrease the size of the energy system by 30% thus saving the total investment as well as the operational costs. The company will build a turn-key 20-megawatt superheated water boiler with dual combustion systems which will burn internal barley husks and plant rejects, completed by externally sourced wood chips. This will prevent about 35,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

The new malt house is built for a batch size of 260 tons of barley and has an annual capacity of 77,000 tons of malt. Commissioning and production are to be held in March 2022.

“By teaming up together, we intend to execute projects with less coordination effort for our customer. Our joint creativity will take us into the future and our customers will have ever better and more efficient disposal solutions,” mentioned Wick.

A combined goal has been set to reduce energy consumption in all new food plants by at least 50% by 2025. Together, they want to create the possibility of making malting plants CO2 neutral. The project in Uruguay is just the start. In the future, both partners desire to coordinate their solutions technologically in a targeted way.

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