One of the leading producers of hops in the U.S.,Yakima Chief Hops long had a lofty goal of finding a way to capture and re-use the millions of pounds of carbon dioxide needed for its hop extraction process.
Hop extract is a pure resin containing alpha acids, beta acids, and hop oils. It’s produced using a high-pressure cryogenic CO2 process to extract the soft resins and essential oils that exist within hops.
For 20 years YCH dreamed of a recovery system that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money by decreasing the amount of CO2 the company must purchase. But, because of the high pressure and the hop residue contained in the CO2 emissions, no one had been able to make YCH’s dream come true.
Having heard of ICC Inc.’s good work on a CO2 recovery systems for other companies, YCH decided to put ICC to the task. ICC partnered with YCH and selected Hypro Group, a global manufacturer of hygienic process equipment, to help make it happen.
Unlike a CO2 recovery system for a brewery, which collects CO2 after fermentation, hops extraction presents one particularly sticky challenge: filters clogging due to high oil content and particulates within the CO2 coming from the extraction process.
To address the high pressure cryogenic CO2, ICC’s engineers added large buffer tanks at the beginning of the process, designed to take the brunt of the quick surge of CO2 coming into the system.
ICC’s engineers figured out how to filter the residual hop oils out of the CO2 gas before re-liquification — a feat no one else had been able to accomplish – with a pre-fill filtration process to mitigate any carry over of hop dust or oil from the YCH extract system.
The result: In initial testing upon completion of the system, YCH is collecting 1,337 lbs of CO2 per batch, liquifying and transferring 1,231 lbs back to storage.
The YCH extract plant runs 365 days per year, completing 9 to 13 batches per day.
In 2017, YCH paid nearly $710,000 for CO2. Because of the recovery system, YCH will now be able to purchase 92% less CO2.
The company expects to cut down on the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere by nearly 80%.