Wednesday 10 April 2019

BioLargo Spotlight: Microbrewing Industry is Battling Wastewater Challenges

We at BioLargo Engineering, Science & Technologies are making strides to position ourselves in the engineering services marketplace as a pacesetter in innovative wastewater treatment services. This includes our wastewater engineering services as well as our cutting-edge water treatment technology – BioLargo’s AOS water treatment platform. But it also means that we have a passion for helping people seek out solutions to their water and wastewater problem so that they can get back to what matters – their business. Today we want to explain the challenges small breweries face with wastewater in beer production and speak to the solutions that can remedy those problems.

Craft beer brewing (commonly known as “microbrewing”) serves an ever-growing market for high-quality, small-batch beer and ciders. There are more than 7,000 brewpubs, microbreweries and regional craft breweries in the United States, with 1,000 expected to be added in 2019.  In 2017, they produced over 750 million gallons of beer, about 10% of total U.S. beer production.

In contrast to the major brewery operations that make brands like Coors and Budweiser, many craft breweries are located in condensed residential areas. Some are even integrated with restaurants and/or organize tours of their brewing facilities wherein customers get to learn about the brewing process from the brewers themselves. One thing that most people don’t know is that microbreweries, just like industrial breweries, create large volumes of wastewater per unit of beer produced. In fact, the average microbrewery produces almost 10 gallons of wastewater for each gallon of beer produced. That’s more than 7.5 billion gallons of wastewater per year. Brewery wastewater is laden with high levels of organics including bacteria and yeast, undigested carbohydrates, and chemicals including ethanol, aldehydes and ketones.  All of these constituents add to what is called the “organic carbon load” of the wastewater. In addition to this organic carbon load, brewery wastewater sometimes contains suspended and colloidal solids, excess nitrates/ammonia, and microbial activity.

Many cities require that microbreweries treat their wastewater on-site prior to discharge to the sewer, or face increasing fines and penalties. This is well-articulated in a 2016 news piece by CBC news in this video, which describes Vancouver’s wastewater infrastructure struggling with the load from the city’s many craft breweries. Because of this, microbreweries seek new ways to reduce wastewater volumes and contaminant loads. The challenge for any small business is doing so without disrupting operations and breaking the bank.

BLEST offers solutions to these problems for microbreweries, including engineering consulting, permitting services, design, and wastewater treatment (including the BioLargo AOS system). We understand the wastewater issues that brewers contend with, and we are able to provide custom-engineered treatment systems suited for microbrewery needs, including:

  • COD/BOD treatment systems
  • Denitrification Systems – MBBRs, Packed Bed Bioreactors
  • Lamella Style Clarifiers
  • Dissolved Air Floatation (DAF) Systems (fine solids removal)
  • Potable water treatment to remove chlorine, solids, lead, bacteria, etc. prior to brewing
  • AOS for influent water treatment and AOS for bacteria control
  • Water capture, treatment and reuse systems
Additionally, many microbreweries in brew pubs prefer to start up in “historic” structures. These structures often require environmental, structural and safety related upgrades to meet newer building codes.  BLEST is positioned to provide a package of engineering services that can address these issues as well as services and products provided to the BioLargo family of companies. 

The national market for on-site waste water treatment for the craft brewing industry is, according to our internal market research, approximately $200 Million. The total market for overall wastewater treatment for industrial facilities is of course orders of magnitude larger than that. Targeting a small fraction of the total market provides significant revenue potential and an opportunity to serve a growing market segment local to all BioLargo geographic locations. Even within the immediate areas of BioLargo’s Westminster and Oak Ridge offices, there are several dozen micro- and craft breweries, many of which are in need of wastewater treatment solutions.

What is a BioLargo Spotlight?
It’s an exciting time at BioLargo. We’re moving fast, and it can be difficult to keep our stockholders and the investing public informed of our progress. In light of this, we will be posting a series of short articles titled “BioLargo Spotlight”, highlighting certain business activities and other important information in between our required SEC filings. Of course, these do not replace our public filings, which contain more complete information than can be delivered in this forum, and thus we urge you to carefully read and rely on those filings for definitive information, and to review our risk factors and caution regarding forward-looking statements. We are optimistic about our business as we work hard to continue to grow and ultimately generate profits for our stockholders.  

Legal Disclaimer
Our attorneys remind us that while we believe these developments are important and that these small victories could add up and lead to big victories, at this stage they do not rise to the level of an official material disclosure. As the size and magnitude of these developments become material, we will naturally report that information in an 8-K and our regular SEC filings

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