California brewery toasts new biogas system opening

By Chris Hanson | March 11, 2014

The Bear Republic Brewing Co. held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the world’s first bioelectrically enhanced wastewater to energy system, dubbed EcoVolt, in Cloverdale, Calif.

The EcoVolt, developed by Massachusetts-based Cambrian Innovation, uses electrically active microbes to treat wastewater to generate biogas, which will generate up to 50 percent of the brewery’s electrical needs and more than 20 percent of the brewery’s heating requirements. The system includes a “headworks” unit, modular treatment reactors and a packaged combined heat and power system. Additionally, the reactors are able to be delivered by flatbed truck and are roughly the size of a cargo shipping container.

“Sustainable production practices have been a cornerstone of Bear Republic’s business since we started in 1996,” said Richard Norgove Jr, brewmaster and chief operating officer at Bear Republic. “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 EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research program, which provides $2.5 billion each year to innovative small businesses, helped fund Cambrian Innovation’s development of the technology. “Tapping cutting-edge technology for the craft production of 72,000 barrels of beer every year will allow Bear Republic to operate in a more environmentally-friendly manner,” said Jared Blumenfeld, regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest at the U.S. EPA. “Innovation provides the double benefit of meeting energy needs and preserving valuable water in short supply due to California’s drought, while helping businesses thrive and maintain local jobs.”

“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 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.”