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The Gallery | Belgian engineers build beer pipeline

Engineers in the medieval city of Bruges in Belgium have built a pipeline to carry beer from one of the region’s famous brewers.

Civil engineering contractor Denys has now finished the 3.1km underground section of the pipeline for brewery De Halve Maan, which will carry 6,817 litres/hour. The aim of the pipeline is to pipe the beer directly to the bottling plant, thereby removing the need for trucks and enabling the brewery to stay in the city centre.

The job included one 600m drilling at 35m under the city’s concert hall. The full scope of the project, including the pipeline, the connection, the engineering and adaptations is around €4M (£3.1M).

“The techniques we’ve used are almost the same as building a water pipeline, the project itself isn’t that different,” project leader Alain De Pré told New Civil Engineer.

“Normally if you’re building a pipeline for a public utility there are rules and regulations, but because it is a private job we didn’t have this. We had to make sure the line didn’t impact any utility lines and leave enough space for them. We couldn’t cross public territory. We had to cross under the roads. We had to go much deeper than the other pipelines.”

An innovative construction technique had to be used in the historic city, often dubbed the Venice of Northern Europe because of its canal network. There was not enough space to install the 600m length of pipe needed to go under the concert hall. As a result, the team placed the pipeline in three 200m sections floating on a section of straight canal. They then lifted the pipes out, over an old hospital building, and lowered them into place underground.

“The most important difference was the atmosphere around this project. People were interested because it is a beer line,” said De Pré. “Normally they do not enjoy works around their houses, but now they were at least interested – maybe hoping to have a personal tap!”

To fund the project, the brewery launched a crowdfunding campaign whereby locals could buy a gold, silver or bronze membership and in return get a set amount of free beer for the rest of their lives.

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