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Clean Power Biogas

Published on May 8th, 2012 | by Jake Richardson


Turning Tons of Food into Energy

May 8th, 2012 by  


American River Packaging in the Sacramento, CA area will soon begin using an anaerobic digestion system to convert 7.5 tons of daily food waste into 1,300 kWh of renewable energy per day. About 37% of the company’s electricity will be generated by the waste-to-energy technology. Converting the large amounts of food waste will also divert about 2,900 tons of waste from landfills each year.

Bacteria are used in anaerobic digestion to break down biodegradable waste into energy in the form of biogas. Components of this fuel source are methane, carbon dioxide, and trace amounts of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen. Other useful byproducts are compost, water, and natural fertilizer.

Anaerobic digestion begins when a group of microorganisms converts organic material, so other organisms can form organic acids. Then anaerobic bacteria utilize these acids, so the decomposition process can be completed.

The anaerobic digestion system being used at American River Packaging is the result of ten years of research by Ruihong Zhang, a UC Davis professor of biological and agricultural engineering. Her technology has been licensed by the start-up Clean World Partners. They focus on providing waste management systems employing anaerobic digestion to help generate energy and to attempt to divert some of the millions of tons of organic matter currently going into landfills.

“I applaud Professor Zhang for this tremendous accomplishment,” said UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “Scientists like Professor Zhang are helping UC Davis address the most pressing global problems of our time. Her work brings us a giant step closer to the sustainable future we all hope for.”

Source: Phys.org
Image Credit: Volker Thies (Asdrubal), Wiki Commons

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  • Bram Pauwels

    I would like to get more details on this technology. I would say anaerobic digestion is an established technology, so I do not get the innovative aspect of this technology. The company I work for has built 25 facilities like this in the last 25 years, treating all kinds of waste, ranging from pretreated household waste to kitchen and garden waste. However, all our references are situated in the EU, the US market is tough to enter…

    • Irwinm

      Hi Bram, If you dont mind me asking what is the name of your company? I find this technology very interesting.

  • RobS

    Wow, this has serious potential. In 2010 the US produced 33.79 million tonnes of food waste, the single largest source of municipal waste. I could foresee buildings in a city like New York installing similar systems, they could generate a significant percentage of the buildings energy use, cut by ~30% the waste produced by the building which would save huge amounts of money from sanitation departments and landfills and by laminating food scraps from rubbish collections you remove most of what attracts scavengers to rubbish awaiting collection. If the systems don’t scale down well you could pool for a system between a few buildings or even all the buildings on a block.

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