Cleantech
Bear Republic Brewery Unveils Energy-Positive Wastewater Treatment System

Sonoma County-based Bear Republic Brewing Company and Cambrian Innovation, a water and bioenergy technology provider, have unveiled an EcoVolt water treatment system at Bear Republic’s brewery in Cloverdale. The EcoVolt system uses a proprietary bioelectric technology to treat wastewater and generate biogas.

Bear Republic, known for its Racer 5 IPA and commitment to environmental stewardship, is the first brewery to purchase the energy-positive EcoVolt system, which will cut its water treatment costs, generate clean water and energy for use onsite, 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. Electrically active organisms rapidly eliminate 80-90 percent of the biological oxygen demand (BOD). The bioelectrochemical system also converts CO2 directly into high-quality biogas that can be used onsite to generate both heat and electricity for Bear Republic’s production process. The EcoVolt is expected to deliver an annual return on investment of more than 25 percent. The system will enable the brewery to:

  • 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
  • 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 Bear Republic Brewmaster and COO Richard “Ricardo” Norgrove, Jr. “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. Matthew Silver, founder and CEO of Cambrian Innovation. “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 ten times the amount of water for beer produced. 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.

While companies in industries ranging from energy to marijuana farming are reaping an array of cost- and footprint-reducing benefits from wastewater treatment, municipalities are also using the technologies to create valuable resources:

  • A Dutch wastewater treatment facility and paper mill are testing out a new sewage recycling system that reduces sludge formation by half, cuts operational costs by 30 percent, significantly increases treatment capacity and yields biosolids that can be converted into Recyllose — a new sterilized product based on cellulose extracted from the wastewater, which is packed into a reusable commodity for use in the paper, construction, plastic and energy industries.
  • Petaluma, Calif., is exploring ways to retrofit its sewer facility to accept high-density waste from industrial users and turn it into electricity to offset the city's energy costs. This is expected to result in a proposal to create a methane digester that turns waste into energy.
  • And New York City recently announced a pilot program that will deliver the thousands of pounds of food waste currently shipped to out-of-state landfills to Brooklyn’s Newton Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, where it will be mixed with wastewater sludge to produce biogas, which will be converted into clean natural gas that will be used to heat homes and businesses across the five boroughs.
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