The Power Of Rubbish: It’s Quite Good

by Nicholas Brown – Special to JBS News

Almost every time you eat, you dispose of rubbish consisting of either peels, fruit cores, crusts, ends, seeds, shells, etc. When you mow your lawn, you produce grass clippings. Wouldn’t it be nice to put all that to some use?

Using anaerobic digestion, these materials can be decomposed to produce useful substances, including (but not limited) to biogas, which contains methane, carbon dioxide, and other gases. Methane is a renewable, highly energy dense (55.5 MJ/kg, or 15.4 kWh/kg), and relatively clean fuel which can power various types of heaters and electricity generators.

BC Bioenergy Network, which works with organizations keen to pilot and demonstrate new technologies, has proudly announced that Harvest Power has officially switched on a plant which generates this biogas using grass clippings and kitchen waste from Metro Vancouver. It is called The Energy Garden. It is located in Richmond, BC, and is now North America’s largest anaerobic digestion plant.

The Energy
Soil and mulch loading ramp at The Energy Garden. Image Credit: Harvest Power.

Annually, it can convert up to 40,000 tonnes of apple cores, pizza crusts, and grass clippings into useful products, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10,255 tonnes.

This plant generates enough electricity to power 900 homes per year, plus, it provides hundreds of thousands of tonnes of soil for farms and gardens. To put the cherry on top, it burns the methane that would otherwise have been released into the atmosphere if the garbage went to landfills. Methane’s greenhouse effect is 20 times greater than that of carbon dioxide!

Could a power plant be any more resourceful than that? Maybe, but this is hard to beat.

The Energy Garden was recently added to KMPG’s list of 100 leading global industrial projects.

About the Author

Nicholas Brown has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, geography, and much more. My website is: Kompulsa.

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