Solid food waste could be used as fuel in cogeneration systems through a new process that uses less energy than typical anaerobic digestion (AD), according to new research.
In a paper titled Psychrophilic anaerobic digestion of semi-dry mixed municipal food waste, researchers from Canada’s Concordia University and AD technology firm Bio-Terre Systems showed that anaerobic digestion at temperatures as low as 20°C can convert solid food waste into usable heat and power.
The process uses psychrophilic bacteria, which live in very low-temperature environments such as glaciers, to break down the solid waste inside a bioreactor. The researchers said the resulting biogas yield matches that of typical AD, while the process itself consumes less energy.
Mohammad Saifur Rahaman, one of the paper’s co-authors, said that common types of anaerobic digestion use large amounts of energy to heat the bioreactors and maintain temperatures to produce optimal bacteria performance.
“There is enormous potential here to reduce the amount of fuel that we use for solid waste treatment,” he added.