A brewer shovels out the used grains.
Photograph by Christopher Lane for Fortune Magazine
By Emily Price
October 24, 2017

The University of Washington has come up with an interesting use for spent grain from making beer: paper.

Gears of Biz reports, spent grain is most commonly given to farmers for use as cattle feed. The University of Washington’s Kurt Haunreiter, who runs the Paper & Bioresource Center in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences learned how to make paper during his 25 years working in the pulp paper industry. At the University he encourages students to come up with interesting ways to replace wood fiber in their paper product: enter spent grain.

While using beer grain works, it’s not exactly perfect.

“The beer grain is not real strong, it doesn’t impart great characteristics, it’s more of an artisan paper,” says Haunreiter.

He says that the paper could be put through a laser or ink-jet printer, and it’s a “nice strong sheet” although maybe not something you’d want to write or print on all the time.

“It will smell more like bread, not beer. We were surprised at that,” Haunreiter said. “But it’s the texture we want. Unfortunately, you still get the husks, and that will interfere with printing and usability, but our end user is looking for an artisan paper, and that’s what we’re trying to go for.”

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