Organic Recycling: Turning Food Waste Into Energy
What if I told you it was possible that a portion of the world’s food waste could avoid ending up in landfills and instead be converted into energy to provide electricity to our homes? Nearly one-third of all food, both raw and prepared, is thrown away and turns into waste. However, most food waste can be converted into a valuable resource used to generate energy.
If we took just a small portion of the world’s waste and turned it into energy, we could free up large amounts of space in landfills while generating fuel for cars and energy for homes. Converting the waste also reduces the number of harmful gases being released into the atmosphere and makes the world a healthier place overall.
How Energy Has Become A Limited Resource
With the rapid population growth across the globe, limited amounts of fossil fuels have quickly begun to diminish, and it has become challenging to provide the amount of energy demanded by the world using only fossil fuels to create energy.
Energy is also a fundamental resource. Without energy, the world would be left without necessities like power in our homes which provides light, heating, and air conditioning, cooking resources, and hot water. Today, much of the world relies on fossil fuels for energy. However, there are several ways to convert organics into energy without fossil fuels. That’s what we’re here today to discuss.
How Waste Could Be Turned Into Energy
How much available organic waste is there available today? In fact, nearly 133 billion pounds of food each year go to waste right here in the United States alone, and this is material that could be reused if properly recycled through a process sometimes called a waste-to-energy system.
Waste-to-energy systems, enabled by the BurCell technology, leverage a process called anaerobic digestion, which is where microorganisms are used to break down and convert organic waste into a fuel such as biogas, biodiesel, or ethanol. The final product then being used for generating electricity or fuel for vehicles.
The great thing about using biogases, and other fuels that come from anaerobic digestion, is that it’s largely carbon-neutral because the materials that created the fuels weren’t pulled out of long-term carbon sequestration like what we see in the use of natural gas or coal. They were instead pulled out of the carbon cycle after just a few months or years because the raw materials came from plants or other food waste. So, while anaerobic digestion does produce methane, which is a greenhouse gas, the same carbon in the methane came from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere a only few months prior.
The BurCell system is a vacuum aided thermal decomposition process that reuses food, paper, and many other types of organic waste products at scale.
The BurCell system offers a disruptive industrial process for the separation, value extraction, and value enhancement of organic source material created through numerous industrial, commercial, and agricultural activities.
The BurCell System and How it Works in the Anaerobic Digestion Process
First, waste is brought to our facility. Our tools then separate any large and bulky items that might interrupt the process or damage the system.
After the separation in our facility, the materials are diverted to a shredder. The shredding process helps increase the volume of the material and the amount we can process in a single batch. Once the material is shredded and the capacity is significantly increased, it is then ready for loading into the BurCell system.
Note: The BurCell system has the capacity to process nearly 10 tons of waste per cycle.
After loading, a team member adds water, heat, and draws a vacuum to start the operating cycle. During this stage, the BurCell system will use a continuously rotating drum to break down the organic waste much faster than otherwise possible.
Once broken down, the waste material is loaded onto a conveyer where the inorganic components (like metal, glass, and plastic) and organic components are separated and the organic byproducts are readied for the anaerobic digestor.
How Anaerobic Digestion Works
Anaerobic digestion is the process of using microorganisms to break down biodegradable waste without oxygen. The types of organic waste which can be used in anaerobic digestion can be found throughout our economy, but some examples of high producers include; coffee shops, restaurants, and other places where food scraps or waste are present.
Here is the process:
Step 1: The food waste, biosolids, and manure are collected from various sources and gathered together for processing.
Step 2: The organic waste is then deposited into the organic waste handling system where it stores and pretreats the material prior to further processing by heating it to around 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour to kill any harmful pathogens.
Step 3: The organic waste then travels into the anaerobic digester – a system that allows anaerobic digestion to occur and captures the biogases as they’re made. This system will typically have an agitator and will work to evenly distribute microorganisms throughout the tank.
Step 4: The digestion process can take between 20-30 days to complete and once done the biogas (comprised of 60% methane) is burned to produce electricity.
Step 5: The organic waste is then processed further to convert the remaining material into several co-products that can either be solid (compost, soil, fertilizer) or liquid coproducts (fertilizer, flush waster, concentrated fertilizer).
The Burcell System: Keeping Organic Waste Out of Landfills
The BurCell System was created with the intent of keeping all organic waste out of landfills, preventing the release of harmful gasses into our environment, putting organic waste to greater use, and helping create an alternative source to fuel our lives.
Organic waste is a valuable resource oftentimes overlooked and can become a missed opportunity. So with the use of The BurCell System, we’re changing the world for the better.
To learn more about our system and how it works, check out our latest blogs or contact our team today!