Bear Republic Brewing Co., a family-owned brewery known for its IPAs and environmental stewardship, and Cambrian Innovation, a biotechnology company solving critical resource challenges for industry, sent over some info on the successful, long-term operation of the world’s first industrial-scale, bioelectrically-enhanced wastewater treatment solution.
What’s that now?
Bear Republic’s EcoVolt solution, comprised of one headworks unit controlling two anaerobic EcoVolt Reactors, leverages a process called “electromethanogensis.”
In this process, electrically-active microbes efficiently treat high-strength wastewater, allowing for discharge to the city in compliance with local standards, and generate a high-quality, renewable biogas. A combined heat and power turbine (CHP) converts the methane into electricity and heat for onsite use, significantly reducing Bear Republic’s reliance on natural gas.
Faced with both water supply and wastewater discharge limits, Bear Republic began to explore onsite wastewater treatment solutions to both support their expansion plan and reduce the load on the City of Cloverdale’s overworked treatment infrastructure. The brewery’s desire to maximize sustainability led them to Cambrian Innovation, and they were the first to purchase the EcoVolt Reactor in 2014. Over the next two years, Bear Republic worked in close concert with the City through a comprehensive permitting and evaluation process. The EcoVolt solution was then fully commissioned and immediately ramped-up in early 2016.
“The City of Cloverdale is proud that Bear Republic Brewing Company is an excellent corporate citizen in the community. In implementing the EcoVolt solution from Cambrian Innovation, Bear Republic exhibited their leadership, both in terms of craft brewing practices and, more generally, sustainable business practices,” said Paul Cayler, City Manager.
After only four months of operation, the EcoVolt solution is exceeding performance expectations across all design parameters, including treatment rate, contaminant removal, biogas generation, and methane fraction. It currently supports Bear Republic’s annual production of 82,000 barrels per year, treating 100 percent of their wastewater onsite. The solution has continuously demonstrated robust operations in the presence of traditionally difficult-to-treat craft brewery wastewater, and can easily expand to support the brewery’s planned expansion to an annual production of 150,000 barrels per year.
“It has been very exciting to see this system come online,” said Casey Chartier, Sustainability and By-products Coordinator. “Since its installation, it has exceeded our expectations. Thanks to our EcoVolt solution, we are able to treat all of our wastewater onsite. This eliminates the need for trucking, supports expansion, and allows us to further invest in the brewery.”
“We are excited about this technology,” added Richard Norgrove Jr., Brewmaster/COO and creator of Bear Republic’s flagship Racer 5 IPA, “and we look forward to seeing it take off in the craft brewing industry.”