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Craft beer company brews up new waste water strategy

January 2014

Lagunitas Brewing Company will be cutting out its 10 truckloads of waste water a day and saving about $1.5m a year.

The trendy California craft beer company has signed on as the first to fully install a new environmentally-friendly water treatment system designed at the hands of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) graduates. The project should be operational in 12 to 14 months.

Moreover, not only is Lagunitas going to be saving on the disposal and associated treatment costs of its waste water, the new onsite treatment system turns the food particles left over from its beer-making process into energy that will be channeled to drive its plant. Lagunitas CFO Leon Sharyon expects the resulting electricity to meet most of its needs. “I’m not sure it will be 100%, but it will be pretty close to that.”

EcoVolt, the product of Cambrian Innovation of Boston, was first tested for 15 months at the Clos du Bois Winery in Sonoma, a wine-making region of California. The winery saw a reduction in aeration pump electricity costs and a surplus in reusable energy. With the positive test results, Cambrian made EcoVolt commercially available in October. EcoVolt had treated up to 10% of Clos du Bois’ total wastewater.

“Industrial food and beverage producers typically use large amounts of electrical energy to treat their wastewater,” said Matthew Silver, CEO of Cambrian Innovation. “Ironically, the waste water itself contains energy.” EcoVolt uses naturally occurring organisms to extract the energy, “turning waste water from a hassle to a revenue source.”
EcoVolt is specifically designed for beverage, food and dairy operations with a novel process that makes use of the rich nutrients contained in the waste water. Cambrian had been awarded funding from the National Science Foundation for the research and development.

Lagunitas has been transporting 50,000 gallons of waste water treatment a day, requiring more than 3,000 truck trips a year. “We looked at a lot of options for onsite treatment,” said Leon Sharyon, chief financial officer for Lagunitas, who believes this new system can be considered `disruptive innovation,’ that is technology that delivers something better, faster and cheaper than what is currently available in the market.

EcoVolt is smaller than existing wastewater treatment options, opening up access to small businesses and for growing businesses to easily add capacity, said Sharyon. Lagunitas is spending about $3 million on its system. “The pay back on this thing is two years, the most.”

The prefabricated EcoVolt equipment is said to be easy to set up and can also be monitored remotely by Cambrian. A typical installation can generate 30 kW – 200 kW of power, according to Cambrian. It can also enable various forms of water reuse depending on the type of operation.

Cambrian Innovation | North America | Environment


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