Whether it’s a cup of tea or a cold one, put your feet up for this next installation in our Brewery blog series.
Whilst our last post focused on the aesthetics of breweries, this post will dive a little deeper into the requirements of the facility itself, to ensure that beverage production is smooth and unhindered.
From milling the grain to mash conversion, brewing beer is a matter of chemistry. Having solid and reliable flooring beneath your feet can be the difference between an effective production line and a failing one, especially with the presence of so many chemicals throughout the process.
Chemical attack can reduce lesser floors to complete failure, often starting with peeling or cracks appearing on the floor’s surface. These early signs of floor failure can quickly lead to expensive repairs, as if the floor’s surface is damaged, chemicals have the potential to reach the substrate. Erosion of the substrate puts the entire structural integrity of the building into question, and can cost a pretty penny to put right!
So which chemicals can you expect to find in a brewery?
- Caustic CIP Cleaner – Sodium Hydroxide 30-60%, used as a solution of 1-3% strength at up to 85°C
- Mixed Acid detergent – Phosphoric (10-30%)/ Nitric acid (10-30%)blend – used as a solution of 0.5% – 1% strength at up to 85°C
- Acid Sanitizer – Hydrogen Peroxide and Peroxyacetic Acid (PAA) Mixture – Hydrogen Peroxide 25%, PAA 5% – used as a 1 % solution at ambient temperature
And it is not just chemical cleaners that the flooring needs to withstand. Other liquids that the floor will commonly come into contact with include:
- Hot water up to 90°C
- Hot water –up to 95°C, pH 4.5 – 5.5, high sugar concentration
- Residual beer and yeast – 0°C – 20°C, pH 3.8 – 4.5
Regular exposure to any one of these substances can have detrimental affects on the flooring of a facility, so when these all appear at once you need a floor that is up to the challenge.
Polyurethane flooring is adept at enduring such conditions, thanks to its tough, chemical resistant nature. This property stems from the high cross-linked formulation of a polyurethane floor, which allows it to shrug off harsh chemicals that would otherwise quickly break down the structure of other materials.
Often, resin flooring can even be tailored to the specific industry, for example aircraft hangars can have flooring that is custom-made to withstand exposure to aviation hydraulic fluid. Whilst a food and beverage facility would not ordinarily need such protection, resistance to natural sugars and acids from residual beer on the other hand is a key consideration for brewing facilities.
As well as high chemical resistance, most polyurethane systems are also seamless, meaning that any corrosive substances spilled onto the floor can be quickly and easily cleaned away and it avoids the chance of such liquids hiding in joints in the floor’s surface.
Of course, strong cleaning chemicals can also be easily tolerated by polyurethane systems, meaning that the floors can be cleaned as often as necessary. In addition to maintaining a hygienic environment, regular cleaning is also extremely important for breweries that have opened their doors to public tours and tastings – a trend which is becoming increasing popular in the industry.
Chemical resistance properties go hand in hand with the durability of the floor, but that is a story for a different day. Join us for our next instalment to find out more!