Food is the fuel that keeps our bodies running.
But our cars?
For some, the idea isn’t so farfetched.
In fact, food, and food waste in particular, is seen as an opportunity by a growing number of corporations. An opportunity to take something that is otherwise deemed as trash and turn it into biofuel that can power vehicles.
Fiberight is one of several companies developing methods for converting food waste, plastics and other trash into fuel.
As a result, the idea of one man’s trash being another man’s treasure has taken on a new meaning.
Last July, Fiberight got the go-ahead to construct a $69 million state-of-the-art facility that will become a waste-to-energy-plant in Hampden, Maine.
The facility, which is being constructed through 2017, will turn trash – and in some cases corn stalks and wheat straw – into biofuel while recycling other materials.
Founded in 2007, Fiberight and its team focuses on “transforming municipal solid waste and other organic feedstocks into next generation renewable biofuels with cellulosic ethanol as the core product.”
Where others see waste, Harvest Power sees resources.
From food scraps to yard trimmings, and even fats, oils and grease, Harvest Power’s core value is to make sure all organic materials are put to their highest and best use.
With locations in Orlando, Vancouver and all across North America, the company’s vision is to “create a more sustainable future by helping communities meet the challenges at the intersection of waste, agriculture and energy in the 21st century.”
One of the ways Harvest Power does this is with clean energy. The company produces biogas – a renewable natural gas from the anaerobic digestion of organic waste – that can be used for electricity, heat and fuel for vehicles.
A renewable energy company in Davis, California, Sierra Energy strives to make waste gasification globally attainable and economically feasible.
Gasification is the process of converting organic waste into carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen.
Sierra Energy does this with the FastOx gasifier.
The FastOx gasifier, which is derived from a steel-making blast furnace, takes nearly any form of waste and transforms it into renewable energy. The gasifier is able to process municipal solid waste, hazardous waste, medical waste, construction waste and more.
As the company name hints, Plastic2Oil converts plastic waste to ultra-clean, ultra-low Sulphur fuel.
Plastic waste is one of the biggest litter issues. Plastic bags and bottles can negatively affect lands, waterways and oceans. Some cities across the country, including San Diego, have established plastic bag bans to alleviate the problem.
The Plastic2Oil process is designed to combat the issue by providing an immediate economic benefit for industry, communities and government organizations dealing with plastic waste recycling challenges.
The advantage is that for every 8.3 pounds of plastic, approximately one gallon of fuel is extracted. Along with the process, Plastic2Oil’s conversion ratio for transforming plastic waste into fuel is 86 percent.
UrbanX Renewables Group
Located in Long Beach, California, UrbanX Renewables Group is a renewable energy company that manufactures clean-burning biofuel from used fryer oil from restaurants and commercial kitchens.
Bruce Melgar founded the company after developing a lifelong passion for combatting waste and environmental degradation. The California Energy Commission granted UrbanX with $5 million to develop biofuel in the state. One gallon of the company’s biofuel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 76 to 92 percent.
These five companies aren’t the only ones turning trash into fuel. Through scientific research and advances in technology, people are discovering more ways and new methods of turning plastic bottles and other forms of waste into energy. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), biodiesel production is forecast to average 102,000 barrels per day in 2017. In 2015, biodiesel production averaged 82,000 b/d and was forecast to average 99,000 in 2016.