Can this Astonishing Aerospace Technology Improve Beer’s Taste?

with 🎙️ Matthew Silver – Founder & CEO @ Cambrian Innovation

💧 Cambrian Innovation is a revolutionary provider of distributed wastewater treatment and resource recovery solutions.

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What we covered:

This is the first (technical) part of our discussion with Matthew Silver. The second part addresses the business topics (check it out here!)

🍏 How Cambrian Innovation evolved from an applied R&D company, working in the aerospace field on a NASA grant, to an industrial wastewater treatment specialist (for instance, for Beer Breweries)

🍏 How solving a high potential Riddle around anaerobic biological treatments brought the company to its breakthrough EcoVolt product line

🍏 How bioelectrically-enhanced treatment solutions clear high strength wastewater challenges

🍏 What paved the path of the 13-year old Cambrian Innovation (in key figures)

🔥 … and of course, we concluded with the 𝙧𝙖𝙥𝙞𝙙 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 🔥 


Teaser:


Resources:

➡️ Send your warm regards to Matthew on LinkedIn

➡️ Visit Cambrian’s website

(don't) Waste Water Logo

is on Linkedin ➡️


Full Transcript:

These are computer generated, so expect some typos 🙂

Antoine Walter:

Hi, Matt, welcome to the show. Thank you very much. Let me start with something which I found out when I was preparing for that interview. And, you know, as a European, I have to find out if it’s a joke, a hidden joke or something I just don’t get. But your company is based in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Matthew Silver:

Right? We moved to Watertown about four years ago. We were in Boston. And before that we were founded in Cambridge, but yeah, Watertown is a town right next to Cambridge. And there have been a couple of water companies that are actually, we’re not too far from where a company called Ionics was started and, and run until they were sold to GE. They were a well-known water business for a while. So we had to move there once you know, once we got a little bigger, but

Antoine Walter:

Did you do it on purpose or it’s just, the name is by accident. So directly related to your business,

Matthew Silver:

It’s not a total accident. We got a good deal on a seven year.

Antoine Walter:

Okay. Sounds like a good reason you addressed the Cambridge aspects, but actually I was also wondering why Cambrian, why that link to this biological? Yeah.

Matthew Silver:

So it was a name that my co-founder and I came up with, it sounds a little like Cambridge and also the Cambrin era in geology is one in which there was an explosion of biological innovation and we are at heart you know, biotech company. And we thought it was kind of a cool analogy that, you know, there’s going to be an explosion of innovation in biotech as applied to the management of resources and other things. And so we thought the name Cambrin was school kind of cited like Cambridge. And we went with it.

Antoine Walter:

It is, it is a cool name. So I’m glad because it looks like I understood it. So that’s a good start because, you know, I I’m a bit, you know, impressed. I had look as well as your resume your path, and you’re an MIT graduate and your company has received grants from the U S department of agriculture of the environmental protection agency, the national science foundation, the army, and so many others. But the most impressive in that list of course, is you got endorsed by NASA. So how does that happen?

Matthew Silver:

Appreciate it. Yeah, we’re very fortunate to have received a decent amount of funding for applied R and D and development from the U S government and other governments. And it started, you know, for the first four years of Cambridge existence, we were basically an applied R and D company. So we were doing a lot of work in biotech as applied to resources and water and energy. And we actually started with a grant from NASA. So I was working at the time as a research scientist at the space systems lab at MIT. And we applied for a grant to look at using electrically active organisms for resource processing in what’s called regenerative life. And that’s a domain of, you know, space systems where you’re looking at supporting astronauts through recycling of air and water and, and other things. And most of it’s done through chemical methods. And you know, it’s been the history of research in and using biological systems for that. And so we were interested in applying to this this new kind of technology to it. And that’s really what got us our start. It was a grant from NASA and we continued to do work for them and were really interested in et cetera.

Antoine Walter:

So you mentioned the first four years. So how long are you in business with Cambrin innovations?

Matthew Silver:

It’s been about 13 years now. So it was about four years of applied R and D. And then you know, we continued to do the applied R and D work, but the bulk of the company was then focused on commercializing in the early days, our core equipment, which was eConsult reactor. And then, you know, from then it was about you know, broadening the product portfolio and really becoming a business that helps customers treat and reuse water efficiently under a service model. So it’s been an evolution as we’ve grown and, but it’s been, it’s been a good run so far.

Antoine Walter:

So the core of the company lies with the eco volt reactor. And that was the part which was already there when you were working with the space agency. Can you explain really for the stupid really for me, how does that work? What is the core of your technology? Wow,

Matthew Silver:

It’s a, basically an what’s called an anaerobic wastewater treatment process. And you know, when you’re looking at the subset of the water business, which is biological water treatment, it’s basically broken down into aerobic and anaerobic. And within anaerobic, those systems produce a by-product, which is biogas, as they’re treating wastewater, treating organics in the wastewater, and they have a number of advantages versus aerobic systems. They’re, you know, they produce energy in the form of bio gas that can be used for heat or electricity. They produce far fewer solids or sort of biomass buildup as a by-product of treatment. And they require less energy than aerobic systems among other advantages. And those really end up driving down operating costs versus other biological systems. The challenge has been to date that, you know, most anaerobic processes are fairly difficult to manage, particularly when it comes to the more what’s called distributed side of the market.

So that on the the systems, which are a little bit smaller and that’s because they don’t deal with upsets very well and they don’t deal with overloads very well, they’re prone to crashing. And so while they have significant cost advantages, they’re also prone to upsets. And so what eco volt does is basically we’ve got a process which is augmenting an anaerobic process with electrically active organisms, and those are particularly amenable to solving some of the upset problems. So to removing some of the byproducts that typically cause upsets. So that’s it, in a nutshell, it’s we’re, we’re introducing electrodes and growing electrically active organisms on those electrodes, and that’s supplementing an anaerobic treatment process in order to bring stability. And it has a couple of other advantages as part of that. It’s because we’re putting an electric current through these electrodes. We’re actually to get able to get some information out about the reactor and based on the way the reactions work, we’re actually able to get an improvement in the bio gas quality, which translates basically to higher BTU content in the gas. So there’s a couple advantages, but really when it comes to the commercial side of it, it’s about stabilizing high rate anaerobic treatment process.

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Antoine Walter:

I’d like to dig a bit into that in a minute. I have a last question just before to understand where you’re coming from. You mentioned that you were working on that matter in terms of R and D and with this space as a background, but was it from day one that you thought at some point, you’re going to move into a commercialization of the technology to treat wastewater for the general public and for the industry and for the de-centralized treatments, or did it come from a pivot at some point where you said, okay we have that technology it’s working. I would sit there in the ultra atmosphere, probably it’s going to work as well on earth. How did that happen?

Matthew Silver:

We have pivoted with the company a number of times in different ways as we’ve learned about the market and the best sort of solutions for the market. That being said, when we started the company, my co-founder and I were always interested in having a large scale impact on industry. And, you know, we always figured that what we would find while doing kind of advanced applied R and D might be applicable to developing industrial products. So we were applied R and D company, but we were always interested in commercializing the solutions early on. And, and, you know, at this point we’re we’re commercial organization. So it was always part of the plan exactly how it was going to come together. You know, we, we developed as we move

Antoine Walter:

When it propose you in the next spinatus that we focus on on the technical side of things, I think we have so much matter that everything cannot fit in one episode, so that there’s going to be a full episode where we can dive a bit more into the entrepreneurial aspect of things and especially on, on the business side. But of course, if you want to tease everyone about your quite innovative approach and quite as an understatement, absolutely innovative approach to the market, of course you, you can tease the business side, but the deep dive is going to be for next time. So let’s focus now on your products, you choose the, the bits, you, you have this eco volt series and the hurt of it is the echo of old reactor. So for the ones that didn’t read you, your brochure, how does that look like? How does that integrate into a plant, which kind of plans, which kind of industry, where does that fit in?

Matthew Silver:

Yeah, so I’ll say to start that we at Cambrin have now a portfolio of products that can be applied to high strength, industrial waste to value. So taking high-strength pollution and creating, you know, reuse quality water, or potable quality water from it in a way that’s highly sustainable and reduces operating costs. So that portfolio includes our eco volt reactor, which was the original product we developed. We’ve got a membrane bioreactor that’s designed to handle variable loads and high strength waste very effectively. And we’ve got a product that we call bio Viper, which is a combined aerobic, anaerobic process for medium strength waste that can be supplemented with those, those two products. All of them are proprietary in different ways. And we’re, we’re really excited about them across the board. And that’s ultimately because we are looking to be a solution provider for our customers. So our customers are industrial manufacturers.

The bulk of what we’ve done to date is in the food and beverage industry. And beyond that, we work with sort of residential communities and resorts and those kinds of companies and the value proposition is that, you know, almost everything we do and manufacturer in manufacturing requires water in some way. And disposing of that wastewater costs a decent amount of money, and Cambrin developed solutions that will essentially cut the cost of disposal while introducing valuable resource back to the manufacturing facility. So that’s the context. And within that eco volt as a product, it will take basically, you know, wastewater that is anywhere from three to 50 grams per liter. So high strength in terms of its organic content in terms of what’s called soluble VOD or biological oxygen, man. And it’s able to get rid of, you know, 70, 80% of that and exiting the reactor.

We can then put that through a, either a membrane bioreactor or another post-treatment process to get to reuse quality. That’s how it works in terms of what it looks like. You know, we, we’ve designed all of our products to be as simple to install as possible and modular so that they can expand with the customer facility. So at the heart of it, we’ve got, you know, basically a tank, which is the bulk treatment we’ve got, we call it a booster skid, which is the part where we introduce the electrically active organisms. And then depending on the customer site, we also have something we call a C3 hub, which is basically a cargo container sized hub for control communications and command. And we can, within that, do we have our electrical work? We’ve got controls and we can also do some lab studies. So it’s kind of like the hub for the treatment plan. So these are, you know, basically modular, distributed wastewater processing plants that are some of which are pre, fabricated and shipped over the road. And some of which are some parts of which are fabricated on site in a final installation, we’ll have a, you know, what most other plants have, which is a pre-treatment tank and kind of post-treatment holding tank and all those kinds of things, but that’s just pretty standard.

Antoine Walter:

So you mentioned that you’re at home if I might say so with a high strength, industrial wastewater, and most of it is food and beverage. Now I’ve seen, you have also some, some references with some wineries emphasis wandering. There are all the industries with high strength, such as, I don’t know why I like a petrochemical chemical or pulp and paper. Why do you focus on the food and beverage? Is it because of the low volume high strength? Is, is that the combination?

Matthew Silver:

Yeah, it was because in our early days we wanted to be really focused on one market. And that was a market where the cost dispose per gallon is, is very high because the wastewater is high in organics. It’s also amenable to treatment and they have a high need for reuse. So we did a whole analysis and, you know, several years ago in the early days where we looked at different industries and we made hundreds of phone calls and analyze sort of the cost of inputs, the cost of water, the cost of energy, all of that. And we honed in on California food and beverage as the as the target rich environment for folks who need help, that’s where we got started. But you’re right. There are a huge number of additional industries that have this problem. And it’s just a, it’s a huge trend right now to move towards cutting water use and reusing water where possible, and folks want to do that, but they don’t want to be bothered with, you know, managing a plant itself.

And so that’s, that’s why, what we’ve shifted to and focus on now is, is selling treatment and reuse as a service where we’re a solution provider and we can incorporate our equipment and then operate it for our customers. So moving beyond food and beverage, we work with, you know, resorts and they have a big need. And there’s a big opportunity there for us. We have some projects that we’ve not made public yet, and other verticals that we will soon, that we’re, we’re very excited about and all of it can contribute to improving the sustainability and the efficiency of those those finishes.

Antoine Walter:

You mentioned the, this all in one aspect, where does that start? I’ve read in some of your papers that you were mentioning a Cambrin water audits. So does that mean that a customer comes to you and they tell you, I need to treat my water to this, or do they come to you and say, I have a problem. And you have to start with looking for solutions and then choosing the right one. Where does your process start?

Matthew Silver:

Yeah. It always starts with a conversation with the customers around what their goals are and what their current costs are and what they’re trying to accomplish. That that’s always the start of it. Typically there’s a couple of scenarios that make people start to look for a treatment system, but either a company is growing quickly and water processing is becoming a big part of their underlying costs, or there’s been a change in regulation in the, in the city or the costs within a given city are causing the water treatment costs to go up significantly. Or they’ve got an existing treatment system. That’s not functioning properly. There’s something that, that is causing them to look for a solution. And that’s when a conversation with us starts. The interesting thing about the water space is that, you know, most of our customers are not experts in water nor do they really want to be.

They want clean water and they want to know that they’re sustainable. And they want to know that they’re in compliance with whatever they’re required to be in compliance with and to do the right thing by the environment, but they don’t know much about the water space. And so sometimes they’re not even aware of either a, all of the places where water is costing them money and conversely they’re not, they may not be aware of all the places where they use water, where they might be able to put in place reuse that will cut their water footprint and further save them money. So with some customers, we start with an audit and that’s basically looking at their, all of the, you know, inputs and all of the outputs associated with water and connecting the flows and trying to understand where their costs are and where the opportunities are for savings. Other customers. We won’t necessarily start with an audit just because they might have a really simple need and they might know exactly what they’re looking for. You know, they’ve got 300,000 gallons of water going out of main pipe and they know that it’s costing them X amount of money and they they’d like to cut it. So then we just dive right into how do we design a solution around that?

Antoine Walter:

So your core product, your first product was the [inaudible] reactor itself. How did you find out that you needed to add something more to the portfolio and that it had to come from you in house and not something you bought on the market. And how did you come up with an idea of developing an MBR?

Matthew Silver:

It was a couple of different things, but we have always taken approach of going directly to our customers to see what they need. There’s a number of reasons for that, but one of them was ultimately that as you’re emerging as a company, it’s important to understand how you can offer something that really caters exactly to the need of the customer. And it was in our early installations and talking to them that we re you know, and doing some research on the market as well, that we realized that a, it wasn’t enough to just sell them a piece of equipment, because as I mentioned earlier, they needed to have it integrated. There there’s always a need for pre-treatment, post-treatment something like that that needs to be put together in terms of a total solution design. And so that’s kind of, it was just an expertise thing, and we were happy to provide that.

And, you know, be we started to see a need for reuse as really important. And the membrane biotech market is pretty mature, but a lot of those reactors are designed for municipal treatment and not sort of industrial treatment reuse. And we’re kind of saw a gap there. So we, we designed one that fit with our approach and our installations and our control systems, and was particularly minimal to industrial streams. I’ll say one last thing about that, which is, this is a pretty conservative industry, rightfully so in that people just want things to work. And for that reason, at least in, in the U S you know, consulting engineers play a big role in selecting equipment because consulting engineers are rightfully conservative. There’s sometimes a little bit more hesitant to select newer equipment. And that was part of in order to solve that problem. There’s a bit, you know, a bit of a chicken and egg where we would talk to some of the consulting engineers and they would, they would indicate that they’d be comfortable specking out our system. If we had five installations and we would ask them, how would we get five installations if we weren’t going to be specked by any? And so solving that part of the direct to customer model was solving that problem. It’s one way to be innovative in the market. These days, we have great partnerships with consulting engineering firms and work closely with them, and we’re we value those very much. And, and but w you know, it’s important for us to be a solution provider as well in the market.

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17+ hours of tips, technical advice, business hints, entrepreneurial inspiration, and market insights condensed in a MASSIVE 94 PAGES INFOGRAPHIC

20 chapters featuring 19 experts, each one addressing a specific chunk of the water industry cake

An evergreen source of Water Expertise at your fingertips to support you through 2021 and the years to come

Book Cover: Don't Waste Water Podcast, Season 1 in a nutshell

Antoine Walter:

Do I get your rights? If I understand that the MBR can somehow be a Trojan horse, because MBR is a more common technology than, than vehicle volt reactor itself. So with that, any consultant in the market understands what you’re doing, and then the eco volt comes. I mean, the reactor itself comes on top of an MBR. So you have something pretty conventional. And on top of that, something which is really from outer space, and that’s the case,

Matthew Silver:

I don’t, I wouldn’t frame it as a Trojan horse in the sense that it’s just part of the solution. Okay. We have some customers that all they need is an NBR. We have some customers that all they need is a bio Viper, and we have some customers that, you know, where all they need is equal, but then you can also put them together in different and innovative ways. I think at this point, our eco whole reactor has been demonstrated to work effectively. You know, we definitely had some hiccups early on in terms of understanding how to size them correctly, and some aspects of operations. And, and we’ve made our way through that. And I don’t think that’s really the operative question at this point, but yeah, I look at it less as a Trojan horse and more as a we’ve put together a really top shelf memory and bioreactor that can deal with the rigors of the distributed and industrial market as well, or better than anything out there. And so we’re excited about that as a standalone product,

Antoine Walter:

You mentioned that the difficulty to to size, I think anyone that’s been involved one day in a project where containerized solutions were involved or where you get a specification and then you come to site, and finally the volume of water is twice higher, twice lower. That’s just daily life. As soon as you you’re in that industry. I mean, water is different everywhere, and conditions are different everywhere. So I’m just wondering when you’re doing the water audits, you have all the other, the values, everything is absolutely known because you’re, you’re there before and you size accordingly, but isn’t it a bit difficult sometimes to just come to the site and even if they have a specific need and they tell you that I say dates, and now it’s January customer. Just imagine I’m the customer. I tell you, it says I have 200,000 cubic meters per year to treat. And then at the end of the day, it’s 300,000. How do you deal with that? Is that the routes, while you have such a modular system where you can add or remove parts if needed, or how do you address this variability?

Matthew Silver:

That is an important question in terms of making sure everything works correctly. Absolutely. The short answer, I may give you two answers to it. The first is yes, we designed the systems with modularity in order to be able to expand relatively easily, and that can deal with the uncertainty and the volumes or the concentrations or whatever else, you know, in terms of original estimates. But there’s also customers that are growing quickly that don’t know how quickly they’re going to grow and how quickly they’re going to need new capacity. And so that’s just an important part of our design philosophy is we don’t want to over-design anything, but, but we want to design it appropriately and make it work. So the modularity that plays a key part of that, the other aspect is just having a process with the customer where, you know, you’re building knowledge about their site, as you’re going along.

Experience is really important within that. So if you’re talking to a brewery or a bottling facility, and they, they give you data that shows that their bod is at X or their TSS is at Y you can cross check that against what you’ve seen, and maybe if it looks off, you know, to dig in a little bit more. So that’s where experience plays a big role, but there’s other ways to get to the core of like, what is the actual variability and how do we design around that? And that’s part of the know-how of most water companies. And it’s an important part of the process when we’re doing water energy purchase agreements, where we’re taking everything on ourselves, that’s just built into our design process. We’ll go onsite, we’ll understand the variability and understand how to design something that both will fit the current need and fit the expansion need pretty seamlessly. And we’ll do that at our cost because we’re, it’s in our interest to do it as effectively as possible. But, you know, there’s other ways to get to that too, you know, water audits or, or other other approaches.

Antoine Walter:

Does that mean that you make like the most accurate picture possible, and then you size according to that picture, or do you go in the direction of making a movie of it? I mean, by that, do you have some online and the lasers or things like that that lets you see over a period of time, how the factory is evolving and also while operation already started, do you still keep taking some data and maybe making some modeling of the plants in order to better understand what’s coming towards your plants or all the way around your plant is so flexible that at the end of the day, he doesn’t really

Matthew Silver:

Care on that last point. I, you know, as a company, we’re proud that our, our systems are able to deal with a pretty high degree of variation, both in terms of the processes themselves, the biology, but also the design of the overall treatment train, depending on how you do that, it can take more or less variation. So that’s definitely part of it. And you’re putting your finger on what is, I think like one of the critical challenges in the industrial market, which is dealing with variability and, you know, missed estimates and all of that and doing that effectively, you know, is really important. But beyond that, you know, we can, and we’ll take, what’s called composite samples. So that’s closer to your movie analogy onsite and just understand the variability through time. And then once we’re onsite, we can even go beyond that for some customers, we’ve had them share production schedules, and we’ve used that to predict automatically what’s going to be coming into the system so that it can adjust accordingly.

And that’s, you know, I guess the last part of what we value at Cambrin, or, you know, as for our customers is is using data to the greatest extent possible. And so we’ve invested in controls and we’ve got something called flow logic, which is in all of our plants, which basically will adapt system operation to incoming flows in order to, to keep things running smoothly and properly. So you can do it in real time, like a movie, but, but the most important thing is getting it right upfront. And that’s done through either industry knowledge or sampling or composite sampling or something like that.

Antoine Walter:

If I stepped back to your, your, your product friends, you have this, of course the cobalt reactor, the MBR, the C3 hub. Is it something that you produce yourself as well? Or is it something that you assembled from market pieces?

Matthew Silver:

We manufacture it ourselves. It houses things like, you know, high voltage, low voltage panels and and control systems and, and, and a small lab and all of that. But it is really useful in on sites that are a little more remote or further away from a centralized facility, or that need a lab or you know, we can even air condition it for operators. So it’s something we put together ourselves. There’s some aspects of it that are, are some that we integrate components into.

Antoine Walter:

And then if we go to the other end of the treatment frame, let’s say you have a [inaudible] reactor, then an MBR. I saw that in some of your references, you have a reverse osmosis treatment step in order to have a direct reusing in industrial process water. In that case, does the reverse, is Moses come from you or do you also source it somewhere on the market?

Matthew Silver:

Yeah, we work with partners that make the aro systems and we will containerize them for our customers and, and for easy installation as needed, but we’ve got some great partners on the RM side. And yeah, that’s ultimately what can get you to, you know, you can get to you, we call title 22 quality reuse, which is a standard out of California with just a membrane bioreactor. But if you want to go to drinking water quality, or even further to, you know, strict potable standards, that’s that’s going to be require a reverse osmosis system.

Antoine Walter:

Well, you can reach high levels with an MBR, but not with every MBR. Is that the reason why, you know, I’m still wondering why you came up with an MBR because you mentioned it it’s a pretty Metro market. It’s the, there are many solutions around MBR. It’s a cool technology. Don’t get me wrong. And I’m fully with you when you say that in the industrial world, it’s a bit less developed than it is in the, in the municipal word, but still I’m wondering if you found a special kick or a special sauce or a secret sauce about your, your MBR that makes it different than that. That would be the reason why it has to come from you when the ROI can be sourced in, in partnership.

Matthew Silver:

The short answer is that we were responding to customer needs and the MBRs we saw in the market and fit that the way we thought they should. And I think that’s been born out with with the MBRs and we’ve sold to date since, since we developed it, integrating it effectively with the [inaudible] system was really important. So understanding expected outflows of the eco olden inflows to the MBR were really important. Having a common control system were really important in being able to introduce flow logic into it in a way that we thought appropriate. Although you could use someone else’s MBR and then do that, it’s just a little more cumbersome. And so it was it was a combination of reasons, all driven by really the company mission, which is to help customers treat and reuse their water as effectively as possible. And so ultimately we’re looking at providing customers with a low cost per gallon, and we found that we could do that best by developing our own membrane bioreactor and been really happy about it. I mean, it is a mature industry, but there’s a lot of things that you can do differently in each design. And so making the right design choices is important.

Get Season 1's Summary!

17+ hours of tips, technical advice, business hints, entrepreneurial inspiration, and market insights condensed in a MASSIVE 94 PAGES INFOGRAPHIC

20 chapters featuring 19 experts, each one addressing a specific chunk of the water industry cake

An evergreen source of Water Expertise at your fingertips to support you through 2021 and the years to come

Book Cover: Don't Waste Water Podcast, Season 1 in a nutshell

Antoine Walter:

I was watching your TEDx conference and had three numbers that just impressed me. The first is that you’ve been treating over 1 billion gallons of waste water since inception of Cambridge innovation. And the second is that you produced over one megawatt hours of energy. Just wondering about this two numbers on how many installed plans do they spread.

Matthew Silver:

We have basically 22 installed plants. Most of those are in North America. Some of them are international. They range in volumes on the low end, from 15,000 gallons per day on the high end 400,000 gallons per day, we can do up to a million gallons a day of treatment. So that’s how we, you know, in a pretty straightforward way. And so those numbers are, are a combination of, of volumes treated across the installed base. And I’m very excited. It’s growing. It’s growing exponentially. I think we’re pretty well above that billion gallons at this point on the, just one correction on the energy, the better way to say it, it’s a gigawatt hour of energy generated or saved, but you could just call it avoided dirty energy. And so that’s over, it’s about 1.5 gigawatt hours at this point. And it is in part due to the significant energy savings associated with treating and reusing water on site versus drawing it from a central utility and sending it back to a central utility.

The central utility energy costs of clean water is high, and the energy cost of treating polluted water is high. So if you use our processes, which are very low energy, or even produce energy and also reuse water onsite, you’re, you’ve got a really significant energy savings. And in fact, if you look at the setting aside the, the energy, you know, we’re generating if you look at the carbon impact of our installations, that’s going to be by third to number. Okay. There you go. Yeah, well, that’s that’s, that’s that come if you combine, you know, if you were treating and reusing water and, and generating some power off of the water as a, as we’re doing that, we’re avoiding the clean water that had, had been originally would have been sent to the factory. We’re avoiding the post-treatment and we’re we’re generating some power we’re we’re, we’re near, you know, net energy neutral, or maybe a little bit below with a plant. That’s a really significant net impact on energy and therefore on carbon. And so though the number is, you know, it’ll vary by site and by treatment process and by utility a little bit, obviously, but it can be, you know, at about three times the carbon count as solar panels. So that means for every dollar put into one of our plants, you can end up with three X, the carbon removal that you would have had through a similar dollar put into a solar plan.

Antoine Walter:

I know it’s a bit comparing potatoes with, with peers or with April’s, but I think you mentioned that number as well. There there’s about 80% of the world’s wastewater, which is untreated today and among those 20%, which is treated, there’s a very, very, very small amount today, which is treated with your technology. I hope in the future, it’s going to be much more, but it’s just a huge potential in terms of green neutral or green positive solutions and carbon positive solutions. There’s a matter to make it a big impact with the kind of treatments that you’re producing.

Matthew Silver:

Yeah. That I appreciate your saying that. And I agree with you. It’s why I wanted to start the company. And I’m very excited about it at the you know, th this area of taking pollution and turning it into something useful is really can have a massive impact on not, not just the environment, but also costs of underlying you know, of underline manufacturing. And so it can be a win-win for the environment and for companies, if you look at just the verticals we’re currently operating in right now, you know, we’ve done an analysis that in North America, there’s, there’s over 50,000 plants that could use our technology. If every of them did, we would be, you know, you’d be somewhere around 50 gigatons of carbon removed by 2050, which is one of the UN development goals. And obviously we can’t get to every one of those plants in the next couple of years, but not every one of them are looking for a system right now, but that’s just North America. And that’s just in the verticals where we’re selling into. So I do see this, the distributed industrial water market as the fastest growing opportunity in the water industry. And one of the biggest opportunities for positive impact when it comes to comes to the environment,

Antoine Walter:

Would you give me a hint into the new vertical you’re after? Or is that still secret?

Matthew Silver:

Well, we can apply it’s not really secret, but, you know, if you just think about it, we can apply our technology to anything that has organic content in the effluent. So beyond food beverage resorts residences, which is itself is, is there’s a lot of need there there’s pharmaceutical there’s biofuels, there’s oil and gas, you know, there’s there’s while it’s, it’s a polluting industry, oil and gas was able to decrease it decarbonized to the greatest extent possible and its processing, and then was able to do carbon capture and offset some of the carbon generated like the industry might, might start to move the needle. So, so those are other, those are all areas where we are excited about helping and, and getting involved in and contributing our technology.

Antoine Walter:

And you mentioned that most of your references are in North America, but were the other ones

Matthew Silver:

We have a plant in Mexico and a plant in Malaysia.

Antoine Walter:

Okay. Malaysia guests is a good place if you want to move to the petrochemical part of the industry, but,

Matthew Silver:

Right, right. And yeah, and, and, and we were interested in expanding operations in Mexico, Latin America, and in in Asia and in developing countries, it’s all, it’s all in the plan. We’ve got a lot to do right now with, with where we are, but we’re excited to grow as a company and to it’s a new geographies. And in many ways, countries that have less developed infrastructure is where we can have the most impact as. So that’ll be a great opportunity going forward.

Antoine Walter:

Maybe just to wrap this part up for today. I like to have one question as a teaser for, for our follow-up discussion, we’ve addressed the water side of things. So a water gets cleaned through the system, which is greed neutral, if not great, positive, but water is only one of the products that you’re producing through the system. There’s also whether at a Tricity or myth, then how important is this second aspect of the treatments? And, and can you just tease us your Wippa agreements before we dig into the Metro a bit more next time?

Matthew Silver:

Sure. Yeah. It the amount of energy we produce is going to be a function of, you know, what’s sent to us in the concentration of the wastewater. So we’re, you know, we can be net positive, neutral, or, or, or net negative, but still a much more energy efficient than other systems. And it ends up, you know, you, you, you wouldn’t install one of our systems just to create the energy. You need a driver that has to do with the water side. So either, you know, the need for clean water or the need for treatment, but once you have those needs, the energy component ends up having a significant comparative impact on the life cycle cost. And so, you know, it can be, you can, it can make the overall operations significantly cheaper for a range of reasons. There’s the you know, we’re, we’re avoiding energy use.

We’re, we’re generating some power. And there’s also a good amount of incentives for renewable energy generation that we can, that we can leverage in the installations and to move to your question about the week that, you know, putting together the water energy purchase agreement was basically a way for us to introduce to our customers, all of these benefits with a much simpler offering of, you know, charging per gallon sent to them or per kilowatt hour that we send so that they’re buying water and energy in the same way that they would buy it from their utility. Only it’s being produced by a renewable onsite utility in the form of our systems. And we’ll be responsible for all aspects of construction installation, commissioning operation, and they only have to pay for what they get. So they get the clean energy at the price that they want, and they get the clean water at the price, you know, that we’ve agreed to.

And typically that’s a pretty significant savings to their current costs, and they’re not responsible for any of the rest. So it’s a way of you know, I’ve put it in the past doing for the distributed water industry, what the power purchase agreement did for the solar industry, with the rise of, you know, companies like sun, Edison, Sunrun, and all of that. Those had a big impact. And, and part of it was that people were used to buying electricity from utilities, but not used to buying solar panels and installing them and operating them. And I don’t think a lot of the customers that buy PPS want to be doing all of that. So I think we’re excited about the water energy purchase agreement as a somewhat of a disruptive approach to the distributed water market and one which really benefits customers create stability in pricing simplifies their, their life. They can focus on manufacturing, whatever they’re manufacturing, and we help them solve their, their water problems.

Antoine Walter:

Let’s put that on ice. Don’t give everything away because we have much more to dig into next time. If that’s fine with you, I propose you to switch to the rapid fire questions. Sure.

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Rapid fire questions

Antoine Walter:

For the rapid fire questions to the rule is simple. I try to keep the question short and you can try to keep the answers short. Of course, if there’s more to say I’m not cutting the microphone, the first question would be what is the most exciting project you’ve been working on and why?

Matthew Silver:

Well I’m really excited about a project we have going. That’s going to be in the heart of a us city doing treatment and reuse to drinking water quality over 20 years that we’re going to be announcing pretty soon.

Antoine Walter:

Did we just unveil your new vertical?

Matthew Silver:

No. Surrender that one.

Antoine Walter:

What’s your favorite part of your current job?

Matthew Silver:

Creating something that’s meaningful and will have a positive impact on the world. What is the trends to watch out in the water industry? I think it’s the infrastructure as a service model. That’s going to have a big impact.

Antoine Walter:

What is the thing you care the most when you’re working on a new project?

Matthew Silver:

Making the customers happy?

Antoine Walter:

And what is the one you care the least?

Matthew Silver:

Sleep. I don’t know. What do I care the least about? I care about everything. Well, sleep is it’s the first time someone gets me the sensor. So it’s an interesting one. I should care more about it.

Antoine Walter:

Do you have sources to recommend, to keep up with the water and wastewater market trends?

Matthew Silver:

Well, you know, GWI is a great, is a great publication and surprisingly, everybody answers that. I bet they’re doing a good job. They’re killing it. Yeah, they’re really good.

Antoine Walter:

And finally, would you have someone to recommend that we should definitely invite as soon as possible?

Matthew Silver:

That is a good question. I would say Cody freezing zero mass water, if you haven’t talked to him in already.

Antoine Walter:

I haven’t.

Matthew Silver:

So yeah. Talk to him. It’s cool.

Antoine Walter:

Then Matt, I have to thank you for your your time. It was a very interesting discussion for me. I hope it was for everybody. And I’m sure it was, we will have, as, as teased in that episode, a follow-up discussion about your whip agreements, the business side of your, of your company. And I think there’s still much to uncover. I had many more questions that had to, I mean, I’m cautious of your time. Thanks for being with us today. And yeah, let’s talk very soon.

Matthew Silver:

Well, listen, I I really appreciate it Antoine and thank you for the opportunity to talk about Cambrin and for what you’re doing. It’s it’s great to have someone focusing on the water industry!

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