Editor's Letter: Innovation is BLOOMing in Ontario

In the food and beverage industry, Ontario’s BLOOM Centre for Sustainability has made it its mission to fill that gap, serving as a “connecting bridge” between clients with water or wastewater problems and the technology providers who might solve them. BLOOM’s goal is to understand what’s happening from a water use perspective, how wastewater is being managed, what the challenges are, and what kind of success the client is looking for.

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Angela Godwin, Chief Editor

For many industrial sectors, managing wastewater can be a difficult challenge -- not only because it can be a complicated endeavor but, simply put, it's not their core expertise.

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EcoEthic's Rob Davis with a small scale model of the "gills."

In the food and beverage industry, Ontario's BLOOM Centre for Sustainability has made it its mission to fill that gap, serving as a "connecting bridge" between clients with water or wastewater problems and the technology providers who might solve them.

"In the food and beverage sector," said BLOOM CEO Kevin Jones, "their core business is making a product -- a cheese product, a beer product, a wine product, a bakery product. Their core business is not looking at innovation around water and wastewater."

BLOOM's goal is to understand what's happening from a water use perspective, how wastewater is being managed, what the challenges are, and perhaps most importantly, what kind of success the client is looking for. "And then we look in the marketplace to find appropriate solutions technologies we can bring in," said Jones.

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The BioGill unit in operation at the Cave Springs plant.

Case in point: Cave Springs Cellars, a winery in picturesque Jordan Village, just 20 minutes from Niagara Falls, was outgrowing its existing wastewater treatment system. "This particular winery grew from roughly 5,000 cases per year up to nearly 70,000 cases per year," said Jones. "But they didn't have the expertise necessary to plan for water or wastewater management around that growth."

Winery wastewater is very high in nutrients, and the effluent quantity and quality can be erratic, changing with production cycles and seasonal variations. At Cave Springs, BOD levels could spike as high as 6,000 to 8,000 mg/L. The existing system couldn't keep up. That, combined with the desire to move its wastewater treatment system further away from the production process, prompted Cave Springs to make some changes.

"But we needed help navigating the process and technologies," said Cellar Master Dave Hooper.

BLOOM facilitated a pilot demonstration of a unique, modular technology called BioGill. Distributed in Canada by EcoEthic, the system offers a low-cost, low-energy solution for treating high BOD and FOG wastewater.

"The BioGill is essentially an aboveground bioreactor," said Rob Davis, president of EcoEthic. "It recirculates effluent in a closed loop over a series of flexible substrates that resemble shower curtains," he explained. Biomass, nurtured by consistent exposure to open air, grows on the "gills" and devours nutrients, lowering BOD. "Our goal was 250 mg/L," said Davis. "But the pilot installation took the BOD down to as low as 36 mg/L, well below discharge limits."

Cave Springs has been extremely happy with the demonstration. "The pilot was supposed to last six weeks," said Hooper. "But it's turned into two years and it's still here."

Editor's Note: The full video interview with BLOOM's Kevin Jones is available on WaterWorld.com in the Video Interview section of WaterWorldTV.

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