Bühler Group, Vyncke partner to cut emissions at food processing plants

Bühler Group, a Swiss plant equipment manufacturer, has partnered with Belgian thermal energy plant firm Vyncke to offer integrated solutions to transform biomass side stream products into clean process energy.

Both firms have set a goal of reducing energy consumption in all new food plants by at least 50% by 2025. The first focus of the partnership is in the cocoa, oat, and malt processing segments. With these solutions, dependency on fossil fuels, and CO2 emissions, can decrease from 20-100%, depending on the raw material and side stream productions.

Biomass by-products are generated in almost all food processes. Typical examples are the processing of grains, rice, corn, and cocoa. These are often either used for animal feed or simply disposed of. From these by-products, food manufacturers can also produce a climate-neutral form of energy.

Johannes Wick, CEO of Bühler Grains & Food, said: “This partnership is a key element in our strategy to massively reduce CO2 in the value chains of our customers.”

“Many industries rely on our solutions to reduce their fossil fuel consumption,” added Peter Vyncke, owner of Vyncke. “With Bühler, we now aim to also become the standard to reduce the CO2 footprint of the food industry. Together, Bühler and Vyncke can now offer integrated and optimised solutions where economic and ecological benefits go hand in hand.”

Vyncke specialises in energy production from a wide range of biomass by-products, including industrial or municipal wastes. The company designs and builds green, clean energy systems that combust biomass and waste to produce thermal process energy from 1 to 100 MWh and electrical energy from 0.5 to 15 MWe.

“Today, we are far from exploiting the full potential of recovering energy from side stream products,” said Vyncke.

“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.”

First project – Malteria Oriental

One key joint project will be the expansion of a malt production plant for Bühler’s long-time business partner, Malteria Oriental in Uruguay. The company belongs to Grupo Petrópolis, one of Brazil’s largest beer producers. Its brewing business requires more malt, as beer consumption in South America has grown steadily in recent years.

In malt houses, the thermal energy consumption from drying malt is ‘enormous’, according to the firms. For the project, Vyncke will be responsible for recovering thermal energy from the process by-products. 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.

The new malt house is designed for a batch size of 260 tons of barley and has an annual capacity of 77,000 tons of malt. Vyncke’s installation will save 35,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually compared to standard operational practices in Uruguay. Commissioning and production are scheduled for March 2022.

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

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