Rhiana Meade ’12 Seminar This Thursday

Rhiana took her Reed chemistry degree to Tufts University where she earned her MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering program. She currently works as a Field Operations Supervisor at Cambrian Innovation, a biotech company that specializes in novel wastewater treatment technologies. She will give the Chemistry department’s seminar this Thursday (October 5, 4:15 pm, Bio 019) on “Clean Energy from Dirty Water: Transforming Waste into Resources”

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It takes a lot of water and energy to make beer, and then even more energy to clean the resulting wastewater before it is sent down the drain.  By treating wastewater as a resource, breweries can reduce both cost and environmental impact, extracting clean water and clean energy during the treatment process, and feeding it back to the facility.

Cambrian Innovation uses newly-discovered, electrically-active microbes to enhance traditional anaerobic wastewater treatment, which, when coupled with aerobic polishing and reverse osmosis, turns brewery wastewater into reuse-quality and biogas.  Using the EcoVolt Reactor, EcoVolt MBR, and RO, we eliminate >99% of biological oxygen demand (BOD) and produce up to 3 kWh per kg of BOD treated.  In this talk, I will compare the biochemistry of conventional wastewater treatment with the cutting-edge bioelectrochemistry that Cambrian Innovation has deployed at breweries like Lagunitas, Bear Republic, and Russian River.   By closing the loop between waste, water, and energy, we can reduce the environmental footprint of industrial processes and make it possible for us to enjoy delicious, sustainable beer far into the future.


Rhiana graduated from Reed in December 2012 with a degree in Chemistry.  She did her thesis with Professor Arthur Glasfeld on the structural biochemistry of MnTA.  After Reed, Rhiana attended the Tufts University Graduate School of Engineering, where she completed a Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering program.  Her master’s thesis work with Professor Daniele Lantagne focused on ceramic filter technology for drinking water treatment in the developing world.  After graduate school, Rhiana joined Cambrian Innovation, a Boston-based biotech startup that, has created a suite of technologies for onsite industrial wastewater treatment and reuse.  She first worked on R&D projects related to understanding and perfecting the flagship EcoVolt wastewater treatment solution at the laboratory benchtop and pilot scale.  In early 2017, she moved to California to join the operations team where she is now the Field Operations Supervisor for the full-scale sites.

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