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Biogas from Food Waste


While any organic material may be a feedstock for anaerobic digestion, waste organic matter represents a vast potential for sustainable energy production. Food waste, in particular, is a relatively untapped resource. Large amounts of food waste are produced at campus dining halls and other food service facilities. A case study was undertaken to determine biogas production and implementation potential at the University of Florida’s Broward Dining Hall. Food waste quantity and current disposal methods were determined. The waste was analyzed for organic matter content and potential biogas yield. Food waste was digested in a small-scale anaerobic digester. The study demonstrated that converting food waste to biogas could provide significant supplemental energy to the dining hall. Establishing a biodigester at Broward Dining Hall would contribute to meeting the University of Florida’s sustainability goals by simultaneously reducing solid waste and producing carbon-neutral, renewable energy. By using biogas produced from anaerobic digestion of food waste, in place of fossil fuel, the energy footprint and carbon emissions at Broward Dining Hall would be reduced. Further, energy use and carbon emissions associated with the current disposal methods would be eliminated, and valuable nutrients in the food waste would be recycled for use as organic fertilizer. If biogas technology were adopted throughout the food service industry, this would significantly advance campus and societal sustainability.

Resources

Examining the mechanisms of short-term solubilization of ground food waste for high-rate anaerobic digestion. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 86:323-333 (2014). [PDF]

Converting food waste to biogas: sustainable Gator dining. Sustainability: The Journal of Record 1(6):391-394 (2008). [PDF]