M-71: Brewing a sustainable footprint: Generating energy while treating wastewater for reuse

M. SILVER (1); (1) Cambrian Innovation, Boston, MA, U.S.A.


Beer brewing is a water-intensive industry, typically consuming up to seven times the amount of water for beer produced. Facing new water supply limitations due to drought conditions across the United States, breweries are increasingly focusing on reducing their water footprint while supporting sustainability initiatives. Currently, there are two types of water treatment solutions on the market (anaerobic and aerobic digestion) that brewers can deploy on site to manage wastewater. Employing advances in bioelectrochemistry, Cambrian Innovation has developed a disruptive new pathway for water treatment that not only cost-effectively treats wastewater for reuse or disposal, but also extracts significant energy from wastewater. As a result, Cambrian is fundamentally shifting the wastewater treatment economics for brewers while supporting more sustainable operations. Cambrian Innovation’s wastewater technology was born out of an MIT research team focused on developing water management solutions for NASA. EcoVolt leverages electrically active organisms to reduce biological oxygen demand (BOD) while generating biogas, which is used as energy on site. The process achieves 80% or higher BOD removal rates and can produce enough energy to power more than 50% of a typical brewery’s base load electricity requirements. EcoVolt delivers an IRR of 20% or higher, enabling brewers to improve their environmental impact while significantly reducing operating costs. The bioelectrically enhanced water treatment process differs from other solutions in that the system’s modular unit can easily scale to match a brewer’s growth. It also provides real-time, remote monitoring of the system and can manage a robust range of BODs. EcoVolt can also be the first step in a multi-stage treatment process that provides water reuse on site, helping to reduce brewery impact on limited water supplies. Cambrian Innovation CEO Matthew Silver can speak to the increased need for on-site water reuse systems at brewing facilities that improve a brewer’s environmental footprint while converting wastewater costs into a revenue stream. He can also discuss the development of the bioelectrochemical route to wastewater treatment and how it compares with traditional aerobic digestion and anaerobic water treatment processes. Additionally, Silver can bring the technology to life with a case study of current brewery partners who have deployed EcoVolt, including Lagunitas and Bear Republic.

Matt Silver has 11 years of experience with entrepreneurship, engineering design, and innovation strategy. He is the founder and CEO of Cambrian, where he has guided the firm through six years of growth, directed government-funded grants, and successfully executed local and international corporate and investment partnerships. Matt received a doctorate in engineering systems and two master’s degrees in astronautical engineering and technology and policy from MIT.

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