Mar 8, 2012

Powered by Food Waste

A pilot project in Germany is collecting food waste from wholesale fruit and vegetable markets and cafeterias to ferment and make methane, which will then be used to power vehicles that have been converted to run on natural gas.

The pilot plant has been developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology and is located next to Stuttgart's wholesale produce market for easy access to food waste. The plant will make methane from the waste by using microorganisms to break down the food in a two-stage digestion process over a few days.

Because the food waste being fermented on any given day can be more or less acidic depending on what was tossed out, the pH levels have to be constantly monitored in order for the microorganisms to best do their thing. The waste is held in several tanks that feature a management system that monitors many parameters, including pH level. The software then calculates how many liters of which waste should be mixed together to feed to the microorganisms.

The plant produces about two-thirds methane and one-third carbon dioxide from the process, but nothing goes unused:  the filtrate water which contains nitrogen and phosphorous, and the carbon dioxide produced from the fermentation are both used to cultivate algae for another project, while the sludge left behind from the fermentation is sent to other institutes that are capable of making methane from it.

The pilot project has been funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and has partnerships with energy company Energie Baden-W├╝rttemberg, which is processing the biogas, and with Daimler, which is supplying natural gas-converted vehicles to run on the fuel.


  1. That is some serious goat-thinkin' going on there..! I worked in restaurants for a bit and always wondered what became of the waste and grease that was dumped out... this would be a wonderful use of man-made waste and more in line with how the natural world works...

  2. I was hanging my hat on hydrogen for a long time and ignoring natural gas. My mind has been swinging around for a couple months now. May be the use of both! But the delivery systems of both will certainly be a challenge.

    But looking back at removing lead from gas, that happened sooner than I expected. And changing the TV presentation to digital I thought would take for ever, so change will come, probably before I realize it, at least I hope so.

  3. Your blog is seriously interesting. I learn so much every time I come here!

  4. They say STRAWBRIDGE is into AK'S and GREYHOUND RACING?
    How is that possible?
    They say he's into it with BUSH and the NRA and military?
    The government would have to be completely mob for him to get away with this?
    Is that possible?
    They say he does it with CONNIE MACK and OLIVER NORTH?
    The logs are also saying that USTECO is with explosive companies from east to west?
    And that he is in charge of his own called KENCO?
    It's run out of NICE- FRANCE?
    And they say they have the books with BERRIRO?
    CARYESS- JONSO- CUPPA JO...these are the politicians that push gun- running and OSIRIS?
    Who are these politicians and what is OSIRIS?
    And what is EPOSTE- EQUAQUAT - and SQUET?

  5. Fabulous to use waste for a good purpose.

  6. That's brilliant! I wonder why no one ever did it before? The swamps in Louisiana produce methane, too... they call it "swamp gas", and sometime it will ignite and create a big fireball. Someone should figure a way to harness all of that power! Here in Houston, all yard waste and trimmings is collected separately, and composted to be used a mulch in city parks and green spaces. I'll bet those compost heaps make a bunch of methane as well!


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