It turns out that NASA is not the only creator of technological spinoffs from Space technology. Robert Zubrin, the long-time author, Mars advocate, and business entrepreneur has developed a better way for microbreweries to make beer based on technology he helped to develop to use Martian carbon dioxide to make rocket fuel, oxygen, and water necessary to live on the Red Planet. Zubrin has since adapted the technology for the oil and gas industry on Earth.

When beer is brewed, the process creates carbon dioxide as well as alcohol.

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CO2 is also used to carbonate the beverage later in the process. While big brewers have systems to capture the CO2 for later use, microbreweries find that technology too expensive.

They allow the produced carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, to dissipate into the atmosphere. Then, ironically, they have to buy more CO2 from outside vendors at great expense for the carbonation process.

Zubrin’s CO2 recovery machine, developed by one of his companies, Pioneer Energy, is on a small enough scale that it is affordable for microbreweries. The system recovers five tons of carbon dioxide a month, enough to carbonate 60,000 barrels of beer. Capacity is increased by stacking more of the recovery system.

Zubrin’s company is already getting orders for the system. The potential market consists of 20,000 microbrewers worldwide.

When Zubrin developed the technology for Mars, he made it entirely automated. The idea was that robots would precede humans to the Red Planet and create rocket fuel and other consumables from the Martian atmosphere, storing it for later use by the astronauts who would follow.

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The system that has been developed for microbreweries is similarly automated so that it doesn’t require the constant attention of employees.

The truism has existed since the Apollo era that NASA helps to pay for itself through technological spinoffs. Sometimes the phenomenon has been oversold, but it exists nevertheless. Ironically, people will not likely walk across the soil of Mars for another couple of decades. But efforts to send people to Mars are already paying dividends on Earth. That is something worthy of hoisting a glass to.