Case In Point
Steam boilers help distillery with sustainability goals
April 26, 2013
|The Death’s Door Spirits distillery was able to achieve high-quality steam for beverage production by installing these steam boilers.|
Death’s Door Spirits in Middleton, WI, is a popular craft distiller known for its vodka, gin, and whisky that uses organic wheat from Washington Island, Wis. The brand is sold across the United States and Europe, and according to the distillery, the beverages would not be possible without the use of two LX-100 SG steam boilers from Miura.
Miura specializes in manufacturing ultra-low NOx modular on-demand steam solutions.
“Our boilers are the heart of our entire operation,” said Mike Rebier, director of operations for Death’s Door Spirits, “so boiler selec-tion for us was paramount.”
Reiber wanted the best and most efficient boilers he could find; boilers that would provide the lowest cost of maintenance and the highest rate of return on his investment. He looked at different boiler brands, sizes, price-points, and styles, including older technology.
“The fire-tube technology that’s in abundance right now just doesn’t represent what we do,” Reiber said.
He learned of Miura from a colleague at a local craft brewery that relies on a Miura boiler for consistent, on-demand steam.
“Brewers and distillers are similar in many ways,” Reiber noted. “We both need good, high-quality steam. However, in our case, it’s even more important because steam quality and pressure directly translate into product quality for us. Distillers need consistent steam to avoid certain congeners, or unwanted flavors caused by temperature or pressure fluctuations.”
Miura boilers are microprocessor-controlled for precision operation and employ a “once-through” fin-tube design that uses less water, requires less fuel, produces fewer emissions, conserves space, and produces steam from a cold start in less than five minutes. This on-demand steam-generation feature enables users to precisely match load fluctuations as they occur, instead of consuming energy while boilers idle in stand-by mode.
“I have been in food manufacturing for 19 years and have always had to schedule people a few hours in advance to fire-up the boilers for start-ups,” Reiber explained. “When learning about Miura’s on-demand steam, I thought it was too good to be true. On-demand steam is a huge advantage for us because we can get the facility up and running within the first hour. That better utilizes our labor efficiently to produce product, and not just spend time prepping. Also, our Miura boilers don’t need to be blown-down every other day, like the old fire-tube boilers. Every eight to ten days is enough.”
Head-to-head comparisons between Miura and another brand revealed multiple reasons why Miura boilers best fit Death’s Door Spirits’ needs. Among the most important were fuel economy and low emissions. Miura boilers save an average of 20 percent annually on fuel costs over other boilers for typical installations.
“We’re building a sustainable company, and Miura provides us with a lot of things that help in that effort,” Reiber affirms. “We are not yet LEED-certified, but we have it in our design plan. Although certification means more capitalization, it has guided our sustainability and equipment selections.”
Reiber added that most distilleries use their water only once, but Death’s Door tries to use it three or four times, as it’s tied in with the company’s reverse-osmosis system.
Miura boilers’ output results in reduced levels of both nitrogen oxides, a major contributor to air pollution; and carbon dioxide (CO2), the most prevalent of greenhouse gases. Miura boilers achieve low-NOx performance by reducing the temperature of the boiler’s flame, which in turn reduces the amount of excited nitrogen atoms available to bond with oxygen to form nitrogen oxides. As a result, NOx emissions are reduced to around one-quarter of what traditional fire-tube boilers emit. This enables Miura boilers to comply with even the most stringent air-quality regulations. With regard to reduced CO2 emissions, Miura’s technology contributed to carbon abatement with a payback.
“We installed Miura boilers voluntarily, not only because of their functionality and efficiency, but also because their overall sustainability is consistent with our company’s ethos,” Reiber said. “Miura’s low-NOx output is lower than even the emissions limits set by the state of California, which are probably the strictest in the country.”
Reiber added that while most boilers are usually stuffed back in a dark room somewhere, Death’s Door Spirits constructed a first-class boiler room for its Miura boilers. They also added a fire-rated window that enables visitors to see them in operation. Death’s Door Spirits wanted to showcase its Miura boilers because they are such an important part of the process. The company’s Miura boilers are skid-mounted, which enables Reiber to relocate them to a larger facility for future expansion.
“We are very excited about all of the opportunities that this project has brought to us,” Reiber said. “We have even reached out to the University of Wisconsin to offer our facility as a distillation classroom for their fermentation program. We’ve got some great partners and colleagues inside the company and we’re all very enthusiastic about what we’re doing. We have a good direction, and it’s been a pleasure to put the package together.”