The use of enzymes for beer brewing: Thermodynamic comparison on resource use

Laura H.G. van Donkelaar, Joost Mostert, Filippos K. Zisopoulos, Remko M. Boom, Atze Jan van der Goot*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The exergetic performance of beer produced by the conventional malting and brewing process is compared with that of beer produced using an enzyme-assisted process. The aim is to estimate if the use of an exogenous enzyme formulation reduces the environmental impact of the overall brewing process. The exergy efficiency of malting was 77%. The main exergy losses stem from the use of natural gas for kilning and from starch loss during germination. The exergy efficiency of the enzyme production process ranges between 20% and 42% depending on if the by-product was considered useful. The main exergy loss was due to high power requirement for fermentation. The total exergy input in the enzyme production process was 30 times the standard chemical exergy of the enzyme, which makes it exergetically expensive. Nevertheless, the total exergy input for the production of 100 kg beer was larger for the conventional process (441 MJ) than for the enzyme-assisted process (354 MJ). Moreover, beer produced using enzymes reduced the use of water, raw materials and natural gas by 7%, 14% and 78% respectively. Consequently, the exergy loss in the enzyme production process is compensated by the prevention of exergy loss in the total beer brewing process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-527
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Biotechnology
  • Brewing
  • Enzymes
  • Exergy
  • Unmalted barley

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