Cambi was founded by the forest owners' association Glommen Skogeierforening to develop new methods for cellulose production through steam explosion technology. The name is derived from the Latin word "cambium," which is the part of the tree where growth takes place.
Per Lillebø takes over Cambi under a Norwegian oil trading and distribution company, Petrol Holding, in its bid to diversify its portfolio. The focus shifts towards the steam explosion of wastewater solids, following promising laboratory test results. Wastewater solids are homogeneous, produced in high volumes, and rich in organic matter - an ideal feedstock for thermal hydrolysis.
Hias, an inter-municipal company based in the Norwegian town of Hamar, took a bet in 1994 by investing in a novel technology that promised to turn wastewater solids into a safe, high-quality resource for agriculture. Construction started the same year, and commissioning took place at the end of 1995. It was the start of a successful partnership. The plant has been through several upgrades since then, the latest delivered in 2020. The long-term average plant uptime of 98% attests to the reliability of the Cambi process.
Cambi ASA was founded on 14 November.
Building on a good performance during the first years of operation in Hamar, Cambi started to look for opportunities abroad. In 1998, it entered a cooperation agreement with Thames Water in the UK. The two companies established the joint-venture Simon-Hartley Cambi to make the CambiTHP® process available in the UK and Ireland. The first plant in the UK was installed in Chertsey (England) and was commissioned in 2000. Cambi acquired sole ownership of the JV in 2003.
By the turn of the century, Cambi had signed several additional contracts to install THP plants - in Lillehammer and Sarpsborg (Norway), Fredericia and Næstved (Denmark), as well as Aberdeen (the UK). An important milestone was reached with the contract award for a CambiTHP® plant at the Ringsend WWTP in Dublin, Ireland. Early in 2001, Cambi started work on its first large-scale project.
In 2005, Cambi was awarded the turnkey contract to deliver a co-digestion facility with thermal hydrolysis for treating source-separated food waste, industrial biowaste, and wastewater solids. The client, Ecopro, is a cooperation of 52 municipalities in the middle and northern part of Norway. This was Cambi's first turnkey project, successfully commissioned in 2008. In 2021, Ecopro awarded Cambi a new contract to expand the facility with an additional digester.
In agreement with Thames Water, Cambi took over operations at a struggling Chertsey THP plant, made improvements to the process, and delivered the promised benefits. The operational JV was a success and opened the gate for many more systems delivered to Thames Water and most of the other private water utility companies in the UK. Currently, Cambi processes through its systems about 40% of all the sewage sludge in the UK.
Building on 15 years of operational experience and more than 20 successful projects, Cambi decided to develop a more compact plant for medium-sized projects. Called the B6, it uses reactors with a volume of 6 m3, which is half the size of reactors used in the B12 plants. The first contract for a B6 project was signed in 2010, for a plant in Drammen (Norway). Since then, the B6 concept has been refined and standardised into prefabricated modules, significantly reducing the time needed for production and site erection.
Thermal hydrolysis was included as part of a major upgrade of the Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant in Washington, DC. The project represented Cambi's breakthrough in the USA. DC Water saved about 200 million USD in digester construction costs and lowered its annual operation costs by approximately 20 million USD.
In the same year, Cambi won the contract to deliver a turnkey biowaste plant for the city of Oslo. The Romerike biogas plant processes source-separated kitchen waste into high-quality organic fertiliser, while the upgraded biogas fuels buses in Oslo.
In 2013, Cambi acquired its main supplier for steel products and complete plant modules, the SES workshop in Congleton, England. The modern production facility can deliver most of Cambi's THP systems and ancillaries, such as process gas units and heat exchangers. Cambi's management and manufacturing processes are ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 140001:2015 certified.
Cambi signed contracts for 14 new plants in 2014. The breakthrough deal was reached in China. The Beijing Drainage Group contracted Cambi for five large THP plants to serve the city's population of more than 20 million. Other project awards during the year were in South Korea (Anyang, an underground facility), Spain (Ourense), the Netherlands (Hengelo), and the UK (Leigh and Burnley).
A new Cambi design concept was introduced in 2014: the B2 containerised plant. Using reactors with a volume of 2 m3, the B2 has short delivery and commissioning times and meets the needs of mid-size wastewater treatment plants. Contracts for B2 plants were secured shortly after, with the first ones starting operations in 2016 in Ourense (Spain), Leigh and Burnley (the UK). The first contract for a B2 project in the US was also signed that year.
Høst - verdien i avfall (now Grønn Vekst) was founded to process waste streams for the Norwegian soil market. Upstream, it enters into disposal contracts for wastewater sludge and biosolids. Downstream, it sells the processed resources to construction companies and retails soil products. With this acquisition, Cambi diversified and increased its recurring revenue streams.
The joint-venture reunites partners covering core disciplines to successfully execute thermal hydrolysis and sludge management projects, from turnkey plant delivery to biosolids handling. With its JV partners, Cambi is actively identifying and developing projects for centralised (merchant) sludge treatment at suitable sites (e.g. in areas with high biosolids costs) in the USA. Find out more on the EQ Renewables website.
A corporate reorganisation took place. Eirik Fadnes became the CEO of Cambi Group, while founder Per Lillebø remains President and CEO of Cambi ASA, focusing on strategic issues. Cambi is organised into two business segments: Cambi Group, comprising THP equipment sales and related services, and Cambi Invest, which works to expand the recycling business under Grønn Vekst and develop Design-Build-Operate (DBO) projects. Grønn Vekst becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary.
Following a successful private placement, with substantial interest from highly regarded Norwegian and international investors, Cambi was listed on Euronext Growth Oslo on 9 February 2021.