Center for Environmental Studies

Matt Silver ’01 on “Cambrian Innovation: Biology for a Cleaner Planet”

Matt Silver ’01 is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cambrian Innovation. Cambrian Innovation was founded in 2006, while Silver was attending MIT, as a solution-oriented technology company that works with corporate, government, and agricultural clients. While at Williams, Silver majored in Astrophysics and Art History and continued his education at MIT, receiving a M.A. in Technology and Policy and Astronautical Engineering and a PhD in Engineering Systems. Through his educational and professional experiences, Silver found an interest in approaching problems from a systems perspective as opposed to the traditional linear approach in industry. He applied that systems approach to environmental solutions when he started Cambrian Innovations. Silver said that the vision was to view industry as an ecosystem and to think of technology solutions that did not pit environmental solutions against industry.

Silver spoke about Cambria’s most recent project, EcoVolt, a wastewater treatment system that focuses on creating cleaner water while simultaneously generating energy. Instead energy being wasted through heat in the traditional method of wastewater management, the EcoVolt uses exoelectrogenic organisms, electrically active microbes, to treat wastewater and convert pollutants into pure methane or hydrogen fuel. The pure gas is then used to charge microbacterial fuel cells that generate electricity. The EcoVolt is the first industrial scale and the world’s first bioelectrically enhanced wastewater treatment center. As of right now, it is targeted to wineries, breweries, and other beverage facilities who have the potential to convert their waste into usable energy. Since its pilot program in October, the EcoVolt will be incorporated into the facilities of Bear Republic Brewing Company in Sonoma, CA to generate 60kW of electricity. Along with the EcoVolt, Cambria Innovation continues to research and development new biotechnological solutions to the world’s environmental problems.

By Helen Song’14

Matt Silver '01

Matt Silver ’01