Wednesday, April 5, 2023

SHARC and PIRAHNA to the Rescue

The Climate Crisis is scary, making the future seem uncertain, but times like this is when we sometimes bring out the best parts of ourselves. I’m talking about the inventiveness, and creativity that we share as a species, our ability to find the most brilliant solutions to our most dire problems, in the most unexpected of places. I was attending a presentation hosted by Cascadia Cleantech Alliance when I learned about a company, that was tapping into what was to me the most unexpected source of renewable energy.

SHARC ENERGY, located in Port Coquitlam British Columbia, is a company that builds wastewater energy recovery systems. When we use water in everyday life, we don’t tend to think about it once it has gone down the drain, so we often don’t realize how much useable heat we’re just wasting. When we use hot water to wash our hands, take showers, do our laundry, etc. we turn our sewers into reservoirs of forgotten thermal energy lying dormant beneath our feet.

Why should we care about a small amount of heat?

Surprisingly the energy that’s discarded into our wastewater systems is actually significant. If you look at the infographic by SHARC Energy, conventional sewer systems simply take this heated wastewater and send it into the sewers to be treated and subsequently, released back into the environment, but wastewater systems using SHARC Energy capture that heat from wastewater using heat pumps to preheat fresh water that is destined for the building’s hot water tanks (1).

This process of wastewater energy recovery offers a surprising number of benefits in terms of lower costs, lower greenhouse gas emissions, less freshwater wasted, and lower environmental impact. Using wastewater energy recovery reduces the amount of natural gas a building needs to meet its heating requirements. For example, SHARC Energy claims that they have seen a 44% reduction in energy usage in their systems at their 3200 Bluff Project in Boulder Colorado(2.). The process also reduces the amount of freshwater needed by eliminating the need for cooling towers because energy can also be rejected into the wastewater energy system as well as recovered (1).

Another interesting benefit of wastewater energy recovery is that the process cools the wastewater, eventually returning to the environment after treatment. This is important for 2 reasons. Firstly, increasing the temperature in aquatic ecosystems can have negative impacts on temperature-sensitive species (3.), and secondly, dumping high-temperature water into our oceans exhausts our oceans’ ability to regulate our climate. The explanation for this requires a little bit of background first.

When we think of climate change, we think of how the increase in greenhouse gasses trap more heat in the atmosphere, but the atmosphere’s mass pales in comparison with the mass of our oceans. This means that the oceans have a massive capacity for heat, as well as a massive effect on our climate (4.). Because the oceans have so much mass, they also have a high heat inertia, which means that the climate will keep warming for a while even if we cut all greenhouse gas emissions. In the same way, a roast turkey keeps cooking when you let it rest after pulling it out of the oven, our oceans will keep exuding heat for a while because it takes a long time to cool something so massive. So it’s important to make sure that our treated wastewater is cooled before it’s released back into the oceans.


SHARC Energy has two product lines. The SHARC series for large-scale wastewater treatment projects such as “district energy, large commercial and Industrial use” (5.). And the second product line is the PIRAHNA series for smaller-scale projects such as “apartment complexes, hotels, and commercial use” (6). According to the PIRAHNA brochure, the scale the PIRAHNA addresses is on the order of 50–350-unit apartments.

Ways to get Involved

There are 3 ways to get involved in SHARC. Becoming a customer, becoming an investor, and finally, an option with a low barrier to entry, interning at SHARC Energy.

Anyone interested in purchasing SHARC systems can reach out to them at

Anyone interested in becoming an investor should check out the following

SHARC doesn’t publicly advertise their internship programs so all inquiries should be sent through to their contact us page.

Feel free to reach out to SHARC Energy with any questions you have on the Terrestrious Community Discord!

Final Thoughts

Our journey exploring wastewater energy recovery really highlights for me the opportunities we are faced with at this very moment in our history. Yes, we are in the middle of a climate crisis, but it is this crisis that is inspiring our very human ability to search for new solutions. Maybe you knew about wastewater energy recovery before reading this article and kudos to you, but I and many other are outsiders to the world of cleantech. Going through this process of building Terrestrious, and reaching out to companies like SHARC Energy on the frontlines of the climate crisis, I get to explore firsthand how the most unexpected solutions. like energy in the sewers beneath our feet is harnessed for the good of humanity. I don’t know about you, but it’s solutions like these that make me look hopefully toward the future.


To learn more be sure to check out SHARC Energy’s customer highlights, and their work to combine their systems with geothermal energy

SHARC and PIRAHNA to the Rescue

The Climate Crisis is scary, making the future seem uncertain, but times like this is when we sometimes bring out the best parts of oursel...