B.C.-based SHARC Energy, a leader in energy recovery from wastewater, continues to grow its North American footprint as it envisions future expansion throughout the world.
The company, which was founded in Port Coquitlam, B.C. in 2010, specializes in recycling thermal energy from wastewater.
The process generates one of the most energy-efficient and economical systems for heating, cooling and hot water production for commercial, residential and industrial buildings.
“Eleven years ago when I started, everybody thought I was crazy,” said Lynn Mueller, chairman and chief executive officer of SHARC Energy. “’Why would you want to be in that medium? Why do you want to fool around with other people’s waste?’
“But the sewer systems are the common artery to every city, so that made it pretty easy. Everybody in the city puts their waste into one system. It made it pretty accessible and just the amount of energy available is worth it. It’s a trillion dollars a year of energy in the form of hot water put down the drains of the world.
“I think the future is just tremendous because we tick all the boxes of what energy needs to be for the future. The future for SHARC is extremely bright and if the volume of interest and calls is indicative, we’re in for one hell of a ride here.”
SHARC systems recover energy from wastewater
Mueller said the concept is on the same footing as solar and wind in terms of being a recognized energy source.
“We’ve gone from virtually never being heard of, to on the same list as other energy sources. It’s been a very, very rapid growth for us,” he said.
Today, SHARC’s systems are in use all over the world at over 30 different sites from Scotland to Australia to Canada and the United States.
SHARC — which stands for Sewage Heat Recovery — has two products: The SHARC Series is designed to filter large volumes of wastewater from municipalities, energy districts, larger buildings and other industrial developments. The PIRANHA Series is designed for smaller structures, such as an apartment building or condo.
Over the last 11 years, Mueller said the technology has evolved and been upgraded.
He said the systems are completely sealed, so there is no smell emanating into the atmosphere.
“We just tap into the sewage water that’s either in the city pipes or leaving the building, and by means of a heat pump, we just recover that energy. So we move heat from the waste stream into the next batch of fresh water.
“The waters never come near each other. We just take the heat from what’s leaving the building and put it back into the fresh water that’s coming in, that needs to be heated for the next usage,” said Mueller. “What makes it work is that it’s about 400 per cent efficient. So every dollar you spend to recover is four dollars worth of green renewable energy.
“It just offsets the use of natural gas for hot water heating and building heat. So in modern times when decarbonization is everything, we’re certainly on the leading edge.”
SHARC helps developments reduce emissions
Mueller said the company is doing several pilot projects in New York City, which has several thousand buildings that will need to be retrofitted in coming years. He said SHARC is the easiest, simplest solution to make an impact on the retrofit market.
In late September, SHARC announced it has shipped and delivered its systems to three new projects — National Western Center in Denver, Trico LivingWell in Calgary and 303 Battery in Seattle. The units will be installed and commissioned in the first half of 2022.
The National Western Center is a 250-acre academic campus development. SHARC said its system will supply 90 per cent of the campus’ heating and cooling needs and help the centre avoid emitting an estimated 2,600 metric tonnes of CO2 annually.
Trico LivingWell will be installed in two multifamily seniors residences.
“Sales in a market like Alberta, where natural gas is dominant, can prove to be difficult for a clean energy technology like ours,” said Mueller. “However, this project highlights the growing trend of forward-thinking businesses and business owners understanding the need to reduce carbon emissions as stewards of the environment.”
The 303 Battery project is a 15-storey, 112-unit residential tower.
In early September, SHARC also announced Global Education City’s King Edward student housing project in Vancouver would be using its system for hot water production. The project is a four-storey rental apartment with six, two-storey townhouses.
Today SHARC has about 15 employees.
“I had retired from a pretty lengthy career in the green energy business and geothermal heat pump industry,” said Mueller. “I spent a few days at home, drove my wife crazy, and she suggested that if I wanted to continue living in our marital home, I better find something to do.”
“I’ve been thinking for a long time about the amount of energy that goes down the drains of the world and I knew from my own house that I spent $1,200 a year on hot water, because I had a heat pump heating my house and cooling it, but I had a natural gas hot water tank.
“I was just kind of doing the math and wondering if every home in the world has that, ‘where’s that all going and why can’t we get it back?’”
Mueller receives Clean50 Lifetime Achievement Award
The Clean50 Lifetime Achievement recognizes Canadian business leaders and climate heroes, who, through their work and advocacy, have impacted business and the environment in a positive and meaningful way.
“From WaterFurnace International, to Earth Source Energy and now SHARC Energy Systems, for over 30 years Lynn Mueller has done more than his fair share to encourage renewable energy uptake through development of renewable energy systems and clean technology,” said the organization on its website.
“Throughout the ’90s, Lynn was the president and CEO of WaterFurnace International, the largest manufacturer of geothermal heat pumps in the world. He then moved on to establish Earth Source Energy, the largest geothermal installation company in Canada.
“In 2010, Lynn pioneered the wastewater heat recovery industry and established the SHARC Energy Systems. Lynn’s leadership actions in these organizations have contributed to the reduction of millions of tons of CO2 through the technologies he has deployed around the world.
“But his work is not done yet. SHARC is expanding like crazy, and Lynn is currently working with his daughter to develop net-zero carbon heating/cooling options for residences.”