Self Powered Wastewater System

Cambrian Innovation has now launched its field tests at the Naval Surface Warfare Centre in the Carderock Division, Maryland, where they are trialing BioVolt - a Self-Powered Wastewater Treatment System.

The BioVolt wastewater treatment system can, in just one day, convert 2,250 litres of sewage into clean water that can serve an average of fifteen people, whilst generating enough power to be completely self-sufficient.

Conventional Wastewater Treatment Plants

Most conventional wastewater treatment plants devour energy, frequently consuming 1.5kWh for the removal of every kilogram of pollutants. This accounts for three percent of the total energy demand in the United States.

Conventional wastewater treatment plants use bacteria to metabolise the organic matter in wastewater. As there is lots of food for the bacteria to feed on they reproduce quickly and, at the end of the process, can account for a third of the total weight of the leftovers that are to be disposed of. Prior to being disposed of, these bacteria must be chemically treated and heat sterilised, which consumes a tremendous amount of energy.

How does the BioVolt Treatment Plant Work?

BioVolt is a significant development as it can provide a wastewater treatment system that is completely self-powered.

The BioVolt wastewater treatment system works differently to conventional wastewater treatment plants. It uses strains of Geobacter and Shewanella oneidensis microbes to break down sewage. The advantage of using these microbes is that when they exhale, electricity is released - essentially transforming the wastewater system into a battery.

An additional advantage of this, is that it slows the growth of the bacteria, therefore, at the end of the process there is no sludge left to dispose of. This means that no waste leaves the treatment plant, only clean, fresh, drinking water and, due to the microbes releasing electricity, the plant is able to power itself.

Cambrian Innovation

Cambrian Innovation believe BioVolt will work on any sort of scale from large to small. This means homes and neighbourhoods will be able to start processing their own sewage, saving on hundreds of meters of waste piping and producing their own water and electricity.

The company is also undertaking huge amounts of research to find different and effective ways to break down waste. As part of their research Cambrian Innovation has identified a strain of bacteria which may be able to take medical waste out of water.

If BioVolt is successful, and self-powered wastewater treatment plants are developed further, recycling our very own wastewater could become as common as using energy saving light bulbs.


Belmar Technologies design, build, install, commission and service complete industrial wastewater treatment systems for a wide range of sectors. For more information or to discuss our services further, please feel free to get in touch either by email to mail@belmartechnologies.co.uk or by calling +44 (0) 1327 586 008.