Napa Valley-based Rombauer Vineyards will be the first winery to install Cambrian Innovation’s EcoVolt, which will allow Rombauer to treat its wastewater onsite while generating renewable energy and enabling future reuse of the winery’s treated process water.
Rombauer says Cambrian’s EcoVolt will help it meet these challenges and further reduce its water-to-wine ratio. Using the system, the winery can treat its entire wastewater stream onsite while generating up to 30 kW of renewable electricity and heat.
Cambrian’s founder and CEO Matthew Silver won’t disclose how much the EcoVolt system cost but says customers typically see a return on investment in two to three years.
Silver also says the EcoVolt system will provide the winery with significant energy and operational savings over its 15-year lifecycle. It reduces energy demand — the EcoVolt Reactor reduces the organic loading to the EcoVolt MBR (membrane bioreactor) — and can generate up to 262,800 kWh of clean electricity and 10,000 therms of clean heat per year.
Th expected operational savings include transportation savings. “During harvest season, Rombauer currently trucks high-strength wastewater 40 miles off-site to EBMUD [East Bay Municipal Utility District] for disposal,” Silver said. “With Cambrian’s EcoVolt, Rombauer will no longer have to hold and haul wastewater, and will eliminate transportation expenses.”
The winery will also save time and resources on wastewater management. “The automated EcoVolt Reactor can reduce labor requirements, chemical usage, biosolids production, energy demand and compliance fees,” Silver said.
Plus, the wastewater treatment/renewable energy system makes the winery eligible for government incentives. “By reducing the energy demand of wastewater treatment and producing renewable energy onsite, the winery can qualify for energy-related state and federal incentives, such as the Self-Generating Incentive Program (SGIP) and PG&E’s Wastewater Energy Program (WEP),” Silver explained.
In addition, the EcoVolt solution will allow Rombauer to reuse treated process water in the future.
Cambrian’s other beverage-industry customers have reduced their water use and increased production after installing EcoVolt systems. Lagunitas Brewing Company, for example, cut its water footprint by 40 percent. And Bear Republic Brewing Company, which wanted to expand its Cloverdale, California brewery, faced city-imposed water supply and wastewater discharge limits. If it wanted to grow, it would have to find an onsite wastewater treatment system that reduced the load on the city’s aging and overworked water treatment infrastructure.
“In Bear Republic’s case, this system helped them get their required permitting for an expansion of the brewery,” Silver said in an earlier interview. “The payback is very short for them because it allowed them to brew more beer. The city of Cloverdale has a wastewater treatment plant that was completely overloaded and that’s something we’re seeing across the country: infrastructure that hasn’t been improved and is overloaded.”