Boston’s Cambrian Innovation is grabbing national headlines with its innovative system that is capable of producing energy from wastewater. The system, which is called EcoVolt and is used by Bear Republic Brewing Co. in California, uses two sets of biological organisms to consume nutrients in the brewing company’s wastewater. This process results in the production of electricity and methane as a byproduct. The amount of electricity produced through the process provides enough energy to meet as much as half of the brewing company’s power needs. The resulting clean water can then be used to rinse off the brewery’s equipment.
Cambrian has received backing from the Environmental Protection Agency, which wants to encourage the development of this type of technology. In all, Cambrian has received $365,000 in funding from the EPA. The goal is to continue to create technology that will turn waste products into a resource rather than something that just needs to be disposed of.
While the EcoVolt system is very similar to the traditional system for wastewater treatment, it is unique in that it is able to generate electricity. To achieve this result, the company uses proprietary organisms that work together. The first organism eats the waste and releases electricity, while the second one converts the electricity into methane. This methane is then used to power generators. Bear Republic Brewing Co. plans to permanently install the system in the near future and anticipates saving hundreds of thousands of dollars each year thanks to the system. Instead of using the industry average of 5 or 6 barrels of water to produce one barrel of beer, the system will allow the company to use only 3.5 barrels of water.
Currently, Cambrian employs 20 people and has found a real demand for its technology in California due to the state’s high energy costs and severe water shortages. Other areas across the globe are also looking for solutions that will help them obtain clean usable water. Finding clean water has become particularly problematic due to climate change and population growth. The company is just one of many water technology firms in Boston that are trying to dominate the global industry. The industry is projected to grow to $700 billion over the next ten years.