Last month, my team and I had a class presentation about the generation of biofuel and how it is a better alternative to fossil fuel as energy usage. Biofuel mostly comes from the burning of wood waste such as tree branches and wood materials from construction sites. However, there are other sources of biofuel as well. As I was browsing through the GOOD website, I found this article that talks about using fruit and vegetable compost such as banana peels, apple cores and lettuce leaves among others as an alternative source for biofuel.
This project is announced by the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuggart, Germany. The idea is to use microorganisms to transform food scraps to methane gas. A key challenge that the laboratory currently faces is the different acidity levels of the food produce. An orange peel’s acidity is different from a lettuce leaf; therefore, facility managers have to adjust the pH system accordingly in order for the microorganisms to do their magic.
I find that the use of food scraps as an alternative source of biofuel is creative. Companies are so used to using the usual sources of wood, manure, and crops that sometimes they forget other sources such as food scraps, which are things that are more related to an average person’s everyday scrap.
What’s also unique about Fraunhofer’s project is the adaptability of all other components the project generates besides the biogas:
Making methane releases carbon dioxide and waste liquid, both of which are captured and used to nourish the 21 century’s hippest organism: algae, another feedstock for biofuel. And the only waste product, a “sludgy fermentation residue,” is shipped to another lab in Switzerland where it’s made into even more methane.
It is great that the institute had thought about the waste products that the biofuel generation produces and how they can dispose them or use them in other ways. Their sustainable action and forward-thinking had helped them stand out from other laboratories and companies finding new and creative ways of generating biofuel.