News Feature | January 30, 2017

Winemakers Want To Treat Their Own Wastewater

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

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California wineries relying on new forms of wastewater technology are hoping treatment innovations will slow the shipment of water away from their businesses and their regions.

EcoVolt, a bioelectric wastewater system from Cambrian Innovation, is one technologies soaking up media attention lately. Already used “by big-name Sonoma County breweries,” the technology is now “spilling over into the Napa wine industry,” the Napa Valley Register reported.

Here’s how the technology works, per Green Tech Media:

Inside the EcoVolt treatment containers live two types of microbes which are coated on anodes and cathodes. One of the bugs, called an “exoelectrogen,” eats the organic pollutants in the wastewater and generates electricity. The other microbes consume the electricity and carbon dioxide and produce biogas (also called methane). The process bears the rather daunting moniker “electromethanogenesis,” and it’s the core innovation that drives the company’s technology.

Baji Gobburi of Cambrian Innovation described the system like this: “What we’ve effectively done is taken a reaction-based, biology-based system and put it in a box. What we do is actually creating energy.”

For Rombauer Vineyards, which is installing the EcoVolt, wastewater shipped out of the local area is a top concern.

“Rombauer currently ships wastewater during the three-month harvest season 40 miles via truck to the East Bay Municipal Utility District. A 2014 internal review of the Napa Sanitation District estimated six to seven truckloads of wastewater are shipped daily from Napa wineries to East Bay MUD,” the report said.

Yet officials say water is a vital resource for wineries, so they should keep it closer to home. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, “making a gallon of California wine, by various estimates, requires anywhere from a few dozen gallons of water to a few hundred.”

Richie Allen of Rombauer describe the conundrum like this: “Water is the most precious resource a winery has, so integrating Cambrian’s EcoVolt solution into our production plans is core to our strategy as we work to become more water efficient in every aspect of the business.”

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Water & Wastewater Treatment For The Food & Beverage Industry Solutions Center.

Image credit: "red red wine," faisal akram © 2012, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/