Taking The Waste Out Of Wastewater

By Matthew Silver, William Dean 13 March, 2015

With more limits on water withdrawals & discharge Dr. Silver & Dean share opportunities in wastewater reuse

By reusing water companies can expand production without increasing water use; makes economic sense
Cambrian water reuse package has 3 stages to remove organic pollutants & contaminants; quality water produced
Gaps between water supply & water use mean F&B need to readjust to maintain their uninterrupted flow of water

In a 2013 industry survey of S&P 500 companies, 74% percent of food and beverage manufacturers reported water related risk in their supply chain operations.As these companies expand, they face increasing resource challenges, including water, energy and wastewater treatment needs. With drought intensity increasing across the United States and the rate of local water depletion exceeding that of renewal in many regions, water shortages are predicted to become more frequent than ever.Water-related risk, however, is not limited to availability; it encompasses quality, infrastructure, demand, regulation and pricing.

Why reuse water

A well-managed water reuse project using Cambrian Innovation’s distributed, modular and automated architecture can dramatically reduce costs. As water-related risks take shape across the country, local municipalities are putting caps on withdrawals and discharges by production facilities. By turning to water reuse, companies can expand their production capacity and boost revenue streams without exceeding their consumption ceiling.

Local municipalities are putting caps on withdrawals & discharges by production facilities
Water reuse means companies can expand their production capacity without exceeding these caps

The economic case for reusing water is clear. The capital and operational costs for a reuse treatment train are not negligible (with electricity accounting for over 25% of annual expenses). However, with Cambrian’s technology, the price of a gallon of recycled water is competitive with or lower than that of a fresh gallon.
The table below shows the reuse scenario for a mid-sized food or beverage manufacturing plant in several cities across the United States. The Marginal and Annual Savings columns show the dollar amount that a Cambrian Innovation system can provide. Significantly, these calculations do not include the costs of an unstable water supply. Facilities lacking water security experience intangible and large-scale costs related to the risks of supply shock.

“The economic case for reusing water is clear”

Table - Water and Wastewater Rates Compared to Savings with a Cambrian Solution

Getting started on wastewater

In water conscious areas such as the arid west and the southeast, local water quality boards are enthusiastic about water reuse projects. While permitting can be a potential roadblock, detailed plans and hazard assessment protocols will win over willing agencies. Cambrian Innovation’s five-part plan delivers fast and reliable results for clients.
Cambrian water audit engineers go through the client’s entire production facility process by process, identifying water consuming and wastewater producing operations. Final deliverables for this in-depth audit include a process flow diagram for water through the facility, a value stream diagram for water streams as they pick up value through various processes, and a mass balance for the entire production line. Leveraging our industry experience and extensive knowledge of water-using processes, Cambrian rapidly identifies areas for improving water efficiency throughout the facility. Examples include CIP tank rinse adjustments, high-efficiency spray nozzles, and opportunities for water capture.

After water is being used as efficiently as possible it’s time to start reusing water

Once the client is primed to use water as efficiently as possible, Cambrian delivers with state-of-the-art design packages to start reusing water.
Cambrian Innovations Self-Powered Wastewater Treatment Train

Removing organic  contaminants produces quality biogas that can power next stages

For bulk organic contaminant removal (80% BOD removal) we offer our first-in-class EcoVoltTM. A next-generation anaerobic digester, this bioelectrically enhanced, containerized and modular solution generates high-quality biogas (80-85% methane content in comparison with the typical 60%) which can power an entire reuse equipment train,
For water polishing Cambrian deploys our proprietary aerobic membrane bioreactor (MBR). Removing up to 98% of contaminants, this packaged system slots into the EcoVolt’s architecture to provide seamless treatment.

Produced recycled water meets EPA’s primary & secondary drinking water quality standards

Finally, reverse osmosis membrane skids are added as necessary to achieve required water purity levels. In all, our self-powered treatment train produces water at the EPA’s primary and secondary drinking water quality standard. This recycled water can be used for non-contact industrial processes like floor cleaning, external bottle rinsing, vacuum pumping, cooling towers, boiler make-up and landscaping.
Finally, while recycled water never directly comes in contact with product water, Cambrian produces an exhaustive Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan. The plan identifies hazards that exist in the reuse system and critical points where concentration levels of various chemicals need to be constantly monitored. The HACCP provides the ultimate safety protocol, ensuring the quality of the client’s products and serving as a touchstone for any regulating bodies concerned about cleanliness.

Typical beverage producers can cut sewer discharge volume by up to 75% & fresh water consumption by up to 50%

As a start-to-finish solution provider, Cambrian Innovation has the experience to identify water and wastewater problems and the innovative tools to enable an attractive, packaged and technical solution. From the comprehensive water audit to our EcoVolt and reuse skid, Cambrian turns industrial wastewater from a cost-center into a revenue stream. With our assistance, typical breweries, wineries and other producers can cut sewer discharge volumes by up to 75% and fresh water consumption by up to 50% (not including offsite irrigation options).

Predicted global gaps between water supply and water demand mean no choice but to adjust

The 2030 Water Resources Group, a “neutral public-private-expert-civil society partnership” led by The International Finance Corporation and McKinsey & Company and comprised of an extended business consortium from Barilla to Coca-Cola, demonstrates an appreciable gap between reliably available water and current water withdrawals. By the year 2030 they predict a 40% aggregated global gap between water supply and water demand.There is a new paradigm in water consumption. In order to ensure water security and maintain the uninterrupted flow of their most critical input, food and beverage manufacturers will need to readjust.

“In order to ensure water security & maintain uninterrupted flow of their most critical input, F&B manufacturers will need to readjust.”

To begin this process companies can start by comprehensively understanding their water and wastewater consumption. Determine your wastewater-to-product metric to provide a concrete benchmark against which you can measure improved efficiency. Hire an engineering firm or water auditing company and request proposals for treatment and reuse skids when appropriate. Wastewater is a misnomer. By tapping into the resources suspended in their discharge water streams, manufacturers can cut costs, capture energy, expand production and eliminate volatility from their business equation; taking the waste out of wastewater


1  CDP Global Water Report, https://www.cdp.net/CDPResults/CDP-Global-Water-Report-2013.pdf
2 US National Climate Assessment 2014 (p. 771-2); Demand for Water Outstrips Supply (Nature), https://www.nature.com/news/demand-for-water-outstrips-supply-1.11143; Colorado River Depletion (NASA) https://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/july/satellite-study-reveals-parched-us-west-using-up-underground-water/#.VDanG_ldUpw; Colorado River Drought (NY Times) https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/06/us/colorado-river-drought-forces-a-painful-reckoning-for-states.html
3 The 2030 Water Resources Group report Charting Our Water Future (2009), https://www.2030waterresourcesgroup.com/water_full/Charting_Our_Water_Future_Final.pdf

Further Reading

  • Pollution Prevention: What’s The Plan? – The ‘Water Ten’, expected to be released during the National People’s Congress 2015 hasn’t been. So, what’s Beijing’s plan with pollution so clearly on everyone’s mind; though mainly air pollution with “Under the Dome”? CWR’s Dawn McGregor and Hongqiao Liu expand
  • Soil & Water Pollution: Forecasting Impact – In the face of large scale soil and groundwater pollution a risk and megasite approach is best to remediate in a cost effective and sustainable manner. Deltares’ Dr. Annemieke Marsman outlines the strategy they developed
  • Water Stewardship: Actions Must Match Risk – Despite acknowledgement of water risks, 58% of companies in CDP’s 2014 Global Water report do not have a public commitment to water. We expand on actions needed in China & globally to match the risk
  • Water: Can’t Always Buy What You Need -With competition for water intensifying, paying more for water may not get you what you need. Deloitte Consulting’s Will Sarni on strategies that can help corporates secure water for growth
  • SABMiller on Beer & Water – SABMiller’s Head of Sustainability talks with China Water Risk about its global approach to mapping and reducing its water footprint
  • Greg Koch of Coca-Cola on Water Use – Read how Coca-Cola manages its water use in China and globally in China Water Risk’s interview with Greg Koch, who heads up the company’s global water stewardship team
  • 5 Takeaways from Aquatech China 2014 – How real is China’s war on pollution? Will it translate into a growing domestic water market? See what local & foreign industrial leaders have to say in Shanghai
Matthew Silver
Author: Matthew Silver
Dr. Matthew Silver is the co-founder and CEO of Cambrian Innovation. Spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Space Systems Laboratory, Cambrian Innovation solves industrial resource challenges by leveraging advanced biotechnology. The EcoVolt, Cambrian's core technology, transforms wastewater streams into clean energy and clean water. Matt has more than 14 years of experience in technology, commercialization, innovation strategy and engineering design. He has played a key role in building Cambrian's underlying technology and in guiding the firm to successfully penetrate and scale in commercial markets. Dr. Silver holds three advanced degrees from MIT - M.S. in Aerospace Engineering and Technology; M.S. in Technology and Policy; PhD in Engineering Systems.
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William Dean
Author: William Dean
William Dean is a Sales & Marketing Associate at Cambrian Innovation. Dean holds his B.A. in chemistry from Harvard University.
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