Trash Talk Blog

The exciting news in food waste recycling is a new Cold Anaerobic Digestion process that would improve energy efficiency and increase outputs.

Anaerobic digestion involves using microorganisms in oxygen-free environments to break down biodegradable materials (like food waste).  The two traditional anaerobic digestive processes (Mesophilic and Thermophilic digestion) generally require temperatures ranging from 20 – 70°C. However, new research shows options for conducting anaerobic digestion at temperatures below 20°C. This reduced temperature requirement would reduce the amount of energy outlets need for processing materials, meaning higher energy payoffs overall. This could be especially impactful for cooler climates interested in using anaerobic digestion as a source of renewable energy.

Tradeoffs

The study (conduct by researchers from Concordia’s Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering in collaboration with Bio-Terre Systems Inc.) sited negligible tradeoffs for using the cooler digestive process. Also, while certain traditional anaerobic methods only allow food waste to make up a percentage of the waste stream being processed, the new research showed favorable results even when materials were 100% food waste.

Here are some of the additional benefits offered by both the new and traditional anaerobic digestion processes:

  • Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction – Anaerobic digestion is an effective tools for capturing and harnessing methane (a significant greenhouse gas).
  • Renewable Energy Source – Once captured and cleaned, anaerobic digestion processes turn methane into safe, renewable energy.
  • Reduced Water Pollution – Anaerobic digestion serves as a safe method for collecting nitrogen and phosphorus that might otherwise pollute water sources if released in high quantities.
  • Soil Improvement Opportunities – Once nutrients have been collected during anaerobic digestion, they can be dispersed in safe quantities as soil additives and fertilizers to improve crop production and health.

Resources Anaerobic Digestion

  1. Cold conversion of food waste into renewable energy and fertilizer” – By Science Daily, this article summarizes the resent research into cold temperature anaerobic digestion applications.
  2. Anaerobic Digestion and its Applications” – Published by the US EPA in 2016, this white paper provides detailed information on the definition of anaerobic digestion, as well as different processes and their uses.
  3. What is Anaerobic Digestion” – Published by the American Biogas Council, this article provides a brief overview of how anaerobic digestion works.

We hope you found this news interesting and informative. For more information on food waste recycling options for manufacturing and distribution companies, contact us today.

 

***Feature Image Credit/Copyright Attribution: “loraks/Shutterstock”