Brewery employs Waste-to-Biogas system to lower costs and footprint

Brewery employs Waste-to-Biogas system to lower costs and footprint | 21/01/14
by Tina Casey

The Bear Republic Brewing Company in Cloverdale, California is the first brewery to sign onto a new brewery waste-to-biogas system that has some A-list credentials to its credit.

EcoVolt by Cambrian Innovation
The EcoVolt system replaces about half of the brewery’s baseload electricity. It also recycles about 10% of the brewery’s water. Image courtesy of Cambrian


The system, called EcoVolt, is the creation of Cambrian Innovation, an MIT spinoff created in 2006 to commercialize a new class of electricity-generating microbes.

Development of the EcoVolt system was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation under its Small Business Innovation Research program.

From Brewery Waste to Renewable Biogas

We’ve covered brewery waste reclamation before and we’ve covered wastewater-to-energy more times than we can count (here, here, and here for starters), but Cambrian Innovation is new on our radar so let’s take a look under the EcoVolt hood.

Cutting straight to the mustard, according to Cambrian, Bear Republic can expect to get an annual return on investment of more than 25 percent by switching from conventional wastewater treatment to the EcoVolt system.

If you think that’s rather high, consider that the EcoVolt system will replace about half of the brewery’s baseload electricity use with reclaimed heat and electricity. It will also provide enough recycled water to replace about 10 percent of the brewery’s water consumption.

The system is based on electromethanogenesis, which refers to the ability of certain bacteria to release electrons as they eat. The feasting takes place in a bio-electrochemical reactor, where the electrons travel through a circuit to generate methane gas.

According to Cambrian the methane is relatively pure but it still needs to be mixed with a bit of natural gas (we’re assuming that’s conventional gas, but oh well, nobody’s perfect), in order to run an engine.

Aside from directly saving money on heat and electricity, the system also enables breweries and wineries to eliminate the use of relatively large aeration ponds for wastewater treatment. EcoVolt is a modular system that fits in a shipping container, providing more options for site selection and facility expansion.

As for cutting down on water consumption, that’s a timely advantage for a California brewery. Governor Jerry Brown has just called a drought state of emergency, adding yet another chapter to the long and complicated history of California water policies.

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This article, Souped Up Biogas System Turns Brewery Into Green Powerhouse, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Tina CaseyTina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

Waste-to-Energy: The CORE Green Gasoline Biorefinery

BioFuel Plant

CORE Green Gasoline Refinery
CORE Green Gasoline Refinery

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                                                                       Biorefinery Metrics

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Plant Inputs

Biomass                             255,664 Tons
Oxygen          Varies with feedstock

Plant Outputs

Gasoline                  17.9 MM Gallons
Water                         6.5 MM Gallons
Carbon Dioxide            196,000 Tons
Electricity                                  10 MW

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CORE Green Gasoline Biorefinery

Although the MKS Process has been designed to use waste wood, it can process a wide range of renewable biomass feedstock.

Potential feedstock sources include railroad ties, dedicated fibre crops (e.g., high yield poplar species, switchgrass, perennial grasses), agricultural residues, bagasse, and sorted municipal solid waste.

The MKS Process is exothermic, that is, it generates heat.
The heat is captured to drive steam turbines, generating enough electricity to power the biorefinery equipment.
Once running, the biorefinery is designed to be self-sufficient.
The MKS Process does not produce any toxic waste products.

Process by-products include:

  1. Pure water: Available for industrial use or when re-mineralized irrigation or release into the watershed.
  2. Carbon dioxide: Biomass sourced and GHG-neutral; can be captured for industrial use (e.g., greenhouses).
  3. Inert ash: Contains only the minerals present in the original feedstock, suitable for soil enhancement or re-mineralizing water for irrigation.

Copyright © 2011, CORE BioFuel Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Lockheed Martin Goes ‘Green’ – Says ‘Bye’ to Fossil Fuels

Lockheed Martin Goes ‘Green’ – Says ‘Bye’ to Fossil Fuels | 05/12/2013
by Tina Casey

When a major defense contractor like Lockheed Martin lays down some heavy stakes in the green energy field, you know it’s only a matter of time before fossil fuels lose their headlock on the global energy market

Lockheed Martin F-22A fighter
Lockheed Martin F-22A fighter by Rob Shenk.

Lockheed recently teamed up with the green energy innovator Concord Blue Energy to take that company’s waste-to-energy technology global, and here’s where it gets really interesting: Concord Blue has just announced a new agreement to integrate its technology with the firm LanzaTech, which specializes in capturing carbon-loaded waste gas from industrial operations and converting it to high-value products.

Concord Blue Meets LanzaTech

Concord Blue Energy is a new name to CleanTechnica, so before we get to the Lockheed Martin stuff here’s a quick recap from Concord’s website:

Concord Blue has developed a closed-loop, commercially proven, non-incineration process that recycles nearly any form of waste, including landfill waste and sewage sludge, into energy at virtually any scale.

By non-incineration they mean gasification, which leads us straight to the mashup between Concord Blue and LanzaTech. In 2009 we noticed that LanzaTech had developed a microbe that munches down on the carbon monoxide from steel mill waste gas, and converts it to pure ethanol.

That seemed cool enough but the company one-upped itself just one year later, by tweaking the system to produce 2,3 Butanediol from waste gas. This substance is a precursor to other chemicals that are building blocks for manufacturing plastics, textiles, rubber and any number of other synthetic materials.

Fast forward to October 2013, and we find that LanzaTech has received a $4 million grant from the Department of Energy’s high tech ARPA-E program, with the aim of integrating its technology beyond industrial mills and into other carbon-emitting sites.

LanzaTech has wasted no time putting the grant into action, as the new agreement with Concord Blue demonstrates. It covers LanzaTech’s Freedom Pines facility in Soperton, Georgia (for all you Walking Dead fans out there, that’s only a couple of hours drive from Atlanta).

The project involves the integration of a Concord Blue “Reformer” waste-to-energy unit at Freedom Pines, which will pull in waste biomass from the region’s forestry industries. LanzaTech’s part will be to convert waste gas from the process into biofuels and chemicals.

The goal is to steer waste away from landfills and old school incinerators, and bump the waste recovery chain into generating higher-value byproducts, which will make the whole operation a commercially viable, attractive investment for companies around the world.

One thing to note about Concord Blue is the scalability of its system, which raises the potential for small companies to take advantage of the resource recovery opportunity, in addition to major companies.

Lockheed Martin And Green Energy

Now let’s take a look at how Lockheed Martin plays into all this. This past October, Lockheed announced an agreement with Concord Blue to take the company’s gasification process into global markets. Basically, the agreement will leverage Lockheed’s global experience in engineering, program management, procurement, manufacturing and integration.

The new agreement supports Lockheed’s rebranding of itself as a climate-aware company, expressed thusly:

Today, Lockheed Martin is partnering with customers and investing talent in clean, secure, and smart energy – enabling global security, a strong economic future, and climate protection for future generations.

We’ve spent plenty of time on these pages detailing the US Defense Department’s urgent climate change messaging, so it should be no surprise that its major contractors are at least paying lip service to the notion — I know, still strange in some quarters — that human activity has tipped the planet’s delicate carbon balance in a dangerous direction.

With that in mind, it’s worth noting that Lockheed’s other recent ventures into clean energy include an ocean thermal energy conversion project in partnership with the US Navy as well as a wave power project in Australia that hooks it up with another clean tech innovator that has Defense ties, US-based Ocean Power Technologies.

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This article, When Lockheed Martin Goes Green, It’s Game Over For Fossil Fuels, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Tina CaseyTina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.