Craft breweries are a welcome addition to many communities for the jobs, culture, and tourism that they can bring. However, while this growing group of entrepreneurs may indeed be fine brewmasters, they may not always have a firm understanding of the wastewater treatment that is a necessary complement to daily operations.
Many breweries have a tendency to discharge high-strength effluent, and, particularly in small communities, municipal wastewater infrastructure is not always designed to handle this type of new impact.
Compounded by the fact that small-to-medium sized brewers have flooded the North American marketplace, each constrained by space and capital, Toronto-based ECONSE Water Purification Systems realized that this growing niche market needed its own wastewater solution.
From 2015 through 2016, ECONSE teamed up with the BLOOM Centre for Sustainability to start a joint project with members of Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) to test, evaluate, and network at several craft breweries. The ECONSE mobile treatment trailer was brought to different sites to commence months of pilot testing and analysis, while working closely with brewery staff to better understand their needs and challenges.
Derek Davy, Head of business development at ECONSE, says that the company wanted to get a holistic understanding of brewery operations, and determine how it could provide the best solution that would adapt to many different sites and scenarios. Furthermore, since OCB’s long-term vision is to have at least one brewery in every city and town in the province, there are many opportunities to treat brewery wastewater.
“There was a great deal of trial and error before achieving what we considered to be the optimal solution,” he says. “We eventually arrived at what is now the BrüClean System.”
The proprietary technology is a pre-engineered, chemical free system, designed to meet the tremendous challenges of treating brewery wastewater. “There can be massive fluctuations in pH, solid loading, and biochemical oxygen demand loading, depending on whether a brewer is cleaning, brewing, or doing other various procedures, and these processes shift rapidly, presenting a major challenge for any treatment solution,” Davy says.
“Our approach was to gain a better understanding of those fluctuations, and adapt our technology to be robust enough to handle the load” he says. “We designed our BrüClean System to be effective and affordable, and to be something that any craft brewer can manage without the need to hire specialized wastewater treatment personnel.”
Demand for the BrüClean System is now coming in from across Canada and internationally. Brewers, engineers, and consultants working with municipalities are contacting ECONSE to learn more about how this decentralized system can provide a sustainable solution for a growing industry.
Davy says Ontario’s water innovation ecosystem has provided significant support for the company’s growth.
“We’ve received first-rate support from WaterTAP,” Davy says. “They are a trusted partner in helping cleantech startups like our company gain market awareness and strengthen networks, both within the commercial sector and with government agencies.”