At the Quaker Oats plant in Porto Alegre, Brazil, PepsiCo is taking an innovative and environmentally friendly approach to energy production.
Instead of using fossil fuels, like natural gas, to fuel its steam-producing boiler that is used to process oats for Quaker products, the company has turned to a renewable biomass – oat hulls.
Oat hulls, the outer shells of oat grains, are a by-product of oat processing and are plentiful at the Quaker Porto Alegre plant. Each month the plant produces on average about 520 tons of the oat-processing waste product.
Before a specially designed biomass boiler was installed in 2011, the Porto Alegre plantOatHull_3used natural gas and diesel to produce steam for the processing of oats, and the oat hull waste was milled (ground), packaged and sold as livestock feed. Today, the facility uses 1,440 tons of oat hull waste per year to fuel the facility’s biomass boiler.(The remainder is sold as livestock feed.)
The conversion to biomass for steam production has produced thousands of dollars in annual savings, and reduced the plant’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The Porto Alegre biomass fuel program has resulted in a 41 percent reduction in total energy use at the plant since 2010, and reduced natural gas use by 456,000 cubic meters.
Using biomass as an energy source “has the potential to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions,”[ii] says the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
According to the DOE, the “use of biomass fuels for energy does not add to the net amount of carbon in the atmosphere…because the same amount of carbon that is released during combustion of biomass fuels is absorbed from the atmosphere by the plants while they grow.”
OatHull1Burning fossil fuels, however, results in a net increase in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
The biomass project was initiated in 2010 by PepsiCo Brazil as part of its efforts to reduce energy and waste from its operations at Porto Alegre; the plant produces 16,000 tons of oat-based products a year, said Eduardo Sacchi, director of snacks and cereal manufacturing, PepsiCo Brazil.
Reducing energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and waste at PepsiCo production facilities is a company priority; part of Performance with Purpose, the company’s goal to deliver top-tier financial performance while creating sustainable value for all stakeholders.
In 2012, PepsiCo Brazil was recognized for its biomass program by Benchmarking Brazil, which recognizes sustainability best practices in Brazil.