Cambrian Innovation EcoVolt Wastewater Reuse System
Bear Republic Brewery in Cloverdale, Calif., recently installed Cambrian Innovation's EcoVolt system to turn wastewater into energy to power its beer-making operation.

Bear Republic Brewing Company, Inc., recently unveiled a new water treatment system at its brewery in Cloverdale, Calif. The system, which is based on Cambrian Innovation's EcoVolt solution, employs a proprietary bioelectric technology to treat wastewater and generate biogas, transforming waste into an asset. Bear Republic is the first brewery to purchase the EcoVolt system, which is expected to cut water treatment costs, generate clean water and energy to power Bear Republic's business, and significantly reduce the brewery’s CO2 footprint.

Cambrian Innovation is a Boston-based company focused on developing advanced environmental solutions using biotechnology. Founded by Matthew Silver, Ph.D., and Justin Buck, Ph.D., both graduates from doctoral programs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambrian has received grants from NASA and the National Science Foundation to help fund its R&D in the area of clean water and energy technology. Cambrian officially brought its EcoVolt system to market in Oct. 2013.

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According to Cambrian, EcoVolt is the world’s first and only industrial-scale, bioelectrically enhanced wastewater treatment and reuse system. Electrically active organisms rapidly eliminate 80-90 percent of the biological oxygen demand (BOD). The bioelectrochemical system also converts carbon dioxide directly into high-quality biogas that can be used on-site to generate both heat and electricity for Bear Republic’s production process. The EcoVolt is expected to deliver Bear Republic an annual return on investment of more than 25 percent. With the system, the brewery can:

  • Generate enough clean heat and electricity to eliminate more than 50 percent of the site’s baseload electricity use;
  • Supply more than 10 percent of the facility’s requirements with recycled water; and
  • Cut operational costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

“We are pleased to announce this partnership with Cambrian Innovation as Bear Republic phases in this revolutionary wastewater reuse system,” said Richard R. Norgrove, Sr., Bear Republic's CEO.

“Sustainable production practices have been a cornerstone of Bear Republic’s business since we started in 1996,” says Richard “Ricardo” Norgrove, Jr., Bear Republic's brewmaster and COO. “Cambrian’s innovative technology not only fulfills this mission, but also has proven to be a valuable asset for our business, especially as California is in the midst of a drought. By removing barriers to production expansion due to water resource limitations, we can fulfill a family dream of expanding our business within Sonoma County and creating a true destination brewery.”

The EcoVolt installation includes a “headworks” unit, modular reactors for treatment and a packaged combined heat and power system. The reactors are delivered on a flatbed truck and are the size of a cargo shipping container, enabling rapid and simple system installation and commissioning. The modular design enables food and  beverage companies to incrementally add capacity as they grow, reducing upfront capital expenses. Bear Republic plans to treat current water capacity and expand units as it grows. EcoVolt’s bioelectric capabilities allow for continuous, remote monitoring and control, further reducing operational costs.

“Bear Republic is not just implementing one of the most advanced water treatment and reuse systems ever developed—they’re also saving money from day one,” said Dr. Silver. “EcoVolt is proven to treat wastewater and generate energy in a single process, reducing operating expenses and aiding with wastewater regulation compliance. With this installation, Bear Republic has reaffirmed its reputation as a pioneering brewery.”

Beer brewing is a water-intensive industry, typically consuming up to 10 times the amount of water for beer produced. Bear Republic has reduced the water it requires to make beer to a 3.5 to 1 ratio, and with EcoVolt it expects to do even better. The system enables varying types of water reuse, ranging from tank washing to irrigation, cutting sewer charges substantially, while ensuring a stable water supply for the city of Cloverdale.

Matt Migliore is the director of content for Flow Control magazine and FlowControlNetwork.com. He can be reached at Matt@GrandViewMedia.com.

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