After eight years of research and development, UC Davis in Northern California has built a better mousetrap when it comes to converting restaurant table scraps into biogas. The UC Davis Biogas Energy Project led by Professor Ruihong Zhang has developed an anaerobic digester that will accept a wide range of wastes and work faster than other digesters turning the waste into hydrogen and methane.
Methane, which has a high hydrogen content, can also be reformed into pure hydrogen as well. The hydrogen produced from this project can be used to power hydrogen cars and stationary fuel cells.
California produces over five million tons of waste for landfills every year. The new anaerobic digester is expected to be able to work with 50-percent of the waste that normally would go into those landfills.
Onsite Power Systems is licensing the technology from UC Davis to produce a commercialized version of the anaerobic digester. Food processors and farms are intended to be the primary customers and Onsite Power Systems will scale the system to fit each customer’s particular needs.
For the Biogas Energy Project, Norcal Waste Systems has been supplying the table scraps. Norcal visits 2,000 restaurants in the San Francisco area every day and collects over 300 tons of food scraps to feed the UC Davis digester.
If this project proven to be commercially viable and adopted for widespread use, it will significantly reduce the amount of waste going into landfills and reduce the greenhouse gases from those same areas. The project will also provide clean hydrogen fuel, which can then be burned or run through fuel cells to replace the coal-generated electricity on the grid.
One day the table scraps from your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner may just be recycled and pumped into your hydrogen car. Won’t that be a gas?