Underground beer line doesn’t let a drop go to waste

  • Smart, safe and sustainable transport of beer by underground pipeline
  • Not a drop of beer lost between brewery and bottling plant with polyethylene from INEOS

World first

For more than five centuries, brewing has been almost uninterrupted at the Walplein site in Bruges.  In order to preserve this tradition and not to jeopardise the growth opportunities of the production, brewery De Halve Maan, known for its beers Brugse Zot and Straffe Hendrik, has come up with a world first: an underground beer pipeline. This pipeline connects the brewery in the centre of Bruges with the site where the beer is bottled. Thanks to this innovation the brewery can remain active at its historic location and the liveability of the city centre and the brewery's surroundings is improved.

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Technical feat

The construction of the underground beer pipeline that stretches over 3 kilometres is no small feat.  The pipeline runs entirely along public property under several watercourses, the historic "reitjes", the underground car park of the Zand, the historic city walls....

In addition to the special construction schedule, there are a number of other technical challenges: the processes in the brewery and bottling plant must be adapted, there will be a complete cleaning and rinsing system for the pipeline, and several control systems must ensure that the quality of the beer is fully guaranteed at all times. Everything must be done sterile and according to food standards. Moreover, not a drop of the "Flemish gold" may be lost: the pipe must be completely leak-proof.

Perfect food hygiene and leak prevention

Enter the plastic solution from INEOS: high-density polyethylene (HDPE) suitable for pipelines and produced in Lillo, Antwerp. The German pipe manufacturer Egeplast uses this raw material to produce a pipeline with a long life span of at least 50 years. Thanks to the intrinsic properties (flexibility and impact resistance) of the polyethylene, pipes can be made with a maximum length that requires few welds and greatly reduces the risk of leakage. An additional advantage is that the installation of the beer pipeline by the contractor Denys can proceed smoothly.

The result is very satisfying for the brewery, the bottling plant and the city council of Bruges: in terms of reliability and ease of maintenance, the HDPE pipeline can present very good results. There is less road traffic, less noise, fewer traffic jams.

Hygiene-proof thanks to organoleptic tests

Food hygiene is guaranteed. Polyethylene is not susceptible to bacterial formation. Since the material has to meet drinking water requirements, INEOS organises lab tests in which a panel tests the polyethylene for possible influence on taste and smell. This is done at regular intervals to check for any change in the composition of the material. The test follows a standardised procedure: the evening before the test, the pellets are placed in water and slightly heated. The next day, the panel is given a diluted solution to test for odour and taste. The results are then scored and checked against the standards for drinking water in recognised laboratories.

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