The EcoVolt is easily one of the most innovative products we’ve seen at the Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America tradeshow. The EcoVolt system (designed by the smart folks at Cambrian) employs a proprietary bioelectric technology to treat wastewater and generate biogas, not only transforming waste in an incredibly eco-friendly way, but also changing that waste into an asset. Bear Republic Brewing Co. is the first brewery to purchase the energy positive EcoVolt system, which (the brewery says) will cut water treatment costs, generate clean water and energy for use on site, and significantly reduce the brewery’s CO2 footprint.
EcoVolt is the world’s first and only industrial-scale, bioelectrically enhanced wastewater treatment and reuse system. How does it work? Electrically active organisms rapidly eliminate 80 to 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 the production process. The EcoVolt is expected to deliver an annual return on investment of more than 25 percent, says Cambrian. With this pioneering system, a craft 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.
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.
Beer brewing is a water-intensive industry, typically consuming up to ten times the amount of water for beer produced. According to Cambrain, Bear Republic has worked hard to achieve a 3.5 to 1 ratio and with EcoVolt they expect 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.