Safe Environmentally Friendly Sanitation for Breweries

Posted by Ozone Solutions on 18th Oct 2021

Safe, Environmentally Friendly Ozone Sanitation for Breweries

Sanitation plays a crucial role in the brewing industry to ensure a safe, great-tasting product.  Traditionally, this sanitation process is an energy-intensive, chemical-dependent, and water-demanding one. Ozone provides an alternative that can be more effective and better for the environment while saving time and improving profitability.

Bottling and CIP (Clean In Place) processes require high levels of disinfection to ensure a high-quality product. Cleaning the brewing equipment, such as piping, fermenters and cooling tanks, from residues left by the organic compounds from the fermentation process is also essential to eliminate microorganisms. As a precaution, breweries have historically used a large amount of traditional disinfectants including chlorine, acids, and scalding water or steam. Many brewers have chosen to eliminate the use of chlorine to avoid the formation of hydrocarbons which can impact flavor. However, the use of the other disinfectant methods mentioned can result in high energy demands, increased operational costs, storage costs, and chemical residues.
Ozone provides other benefits for brewers:

  • Ozone is produced as needed on-site, reducing costs and risks of storage, mixing and disposal of chemicals.
  • Ozone kills a much broader spectrum of bacteria, fungus and molds, yeasts, spores and cysts from 10 to 5000 times faster than chemicals such as chlorine.

Ozone Sanitation Comparison

Ozone can replace traditional chemicals such as hypochlorite, peracetic acid (PAA,) and hydrogen peroxide and provide a higher microbial inactivation potential, which means that both concentration and disinfection time can be significantly reduced. The table below shows several cleaners and sanitizers used to clean brewing equipment today.

Compound Application Challenge
Acetic Acid (cleaner)
  • Very effective copper cleaner
  • Rinse water should be applied to avoid oxide deposits which may promote bacterial growth
Hypochlorite (sanitizer)
  • Effective at breaking up organic compound
  • Low-cost sanitizer
  • Sanitation effect favored by high temps
  • Corrosion may occur, even for stainless steel vessels (SS304 and SS316,) especially with hot water.
  • Copper vessels are easily oxidized, leaving copper in the beer.
  • May affect the taste of the following brew unless boiled water is used for rinsing.
  • If system is not cleaned properly, it will lose its sanitizing ability.
Sodium/Potassium Hydroxide (cleaner)
  • Very effective detergent and removes organic residues
  • Removes scorched surfaces
  • Extreme handling caution must be taken to avoid skin and eye damage
  • Very corrosive to aluminum and brass
Paracetic Acid, PAA (sanitizer)
  • Readily available sanitizer agent with minimal by-products
  • Relatively low application temperature
  • Shelf-life of beer is reduced unless thoroughly rinsed
  • Expensive at required applied concentrations
  • Smell
Iodophor (sanitizer)
  • Effective sanitizer
  • Not very common in the industry any longer
  • Handling precautions must be taken due to its skin and eye irritating characteristics
  • Stains upon exposure
  • May affect flavor
Heat (sanitizer)
  • Potentially effective but requires a prolonged exposure at high temperature.
  • High operational costs
  • Time consuming due to heat up/cool down periods
Ozone (sanitizer)
  • Can be applied cold, reducing energy costs
  • Leaves no harmful by-products
  • Produced on-site (in-situ) which eliminates chemical handling
  • Negligable consumables (power) cost
  • Gentle on materials
  • No rinsing required
  • Mechanical installation
  • Should not be mixed with other organic chemicals in order to achieve maximum effects

How is Ozone Used for Breweries?

As an organic sanitizer in brewery applications, ozone allows the brewer to safely control microorganisms, mold and mildew throughout the brewery and brewing process. Ozone can be used as a disinfectant for sanitation of:

  • Fermentation and "Brite" Tank - Aqueous ozone provides effective and rapid sanitation of tanks. When used in a tank recirculation mode, ozone can save hundreds of gallons of water. Ozone does not result in tank damage and requires no rinsing after sanitation, as is often the case with chlorine or acids.
  • Bottles, Bottling and Can Line - Besides conserving water and energy, the expansion and contraction of bottling line components created by heat contribute to the long-term stress and damage to bottling lines. The use of cold ozonated water eliminates these stresses resulting in less bottling line downtime and maintenance cost.
  • Process Piping, Hose and Pump - Aqueous ozone can be utilized to quickly sanitize all equipment that comes into contact with the beer, eliminating the transfer of unwanted microbes within the brewery that lead to spoilage.
  • Keg, Keg Washer - Ozone's low water requirement and high bacterial elimination efficacy make it an excellent alternative to chemicals or hot water for sanitizing kegs. In addition, no rinsing is required after the sanitation, which saves time.
  • Filters - Aqueous ozone can be utilized to quickly and easily sanitize filters, killing any unwanted microbes while eliminating the need for rinsing after the sanitation.
  • Wooden Barrel Sanitation and Storage - Aqueous ozone eliminates and prevents the return of microbial organisms in wooden tanks and barrels. Gaseous ozone can maintain barrel and wooden tank health during storage, eliminating the use of sulfur and sulfur dioxide.
  • Floors and Surfaces - Sanitizing brewery floors, walls, drains and other surfaces with aqueous ozone reduces fungi, yeast and bacteria - significant sources of transfer contamination and odors.
  • Air Sanitation - The use of gaseous ozone enables breweries to control mold, airborne spoilage organisms, and offensive odors in breweries.

Ozone Saves Money in the Long Run

Many breweries are hesitant to implement ozone systems due to a more significant initial capital cost. While initial equipment is more expensive, this fails to consider ongoing costs of traditional disinfection methods. Chlorine or acid sanitation systems require ongoing chemical purchases, storage and storage-related compliance costs (and risks,) added maintenance, and machinery replacement due to chemical damage. Furthermore, there are often personnel costs related to the additional rinse steps required due to chemical use. Ozone systems are low maintenance, they do not leave residue, and ozone does not require storage since it is generated on site.

Similarly, ozone can provide substantial benefits when compared to hot water disinfection. There is no need to heat the water with ozone, there are no additional rinse steps, and there is less mechanical stress on equipment from heating and cooling.