Scientists from Singapore have managed to create a novel anaerobic digester system that recycles food waste to generate electricity and heat energy. This newest technology is self-sufficient since the produced electricity and heat fully power the system and its processes. Moreover, the present invention will help to combat food waste, as usually a small amount of them are recycled, without the need for energy expenditure.
The innovative system was developed by the scientific group, led by Associate Professor Tong Yen Wah, from the National University of Singapore in collaboration with the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The universities' cooperation was funded by the National Research Foundation.
According to the FAO, each year 1/3 of all food, which was produced, is wasted. This food refuses demonstrated a lost possibility to improve global food security, and, moreover, to decrease environmental impacts and resources use from food chains. All of these factors have an extremely negative impact on the environment. Wastage of cereals in Asia has a significant impact on carbon, blue water, and arable land. Wastage of meat generates the carbon footprint, especially in high-revenue areas and Latin America. Fruit wastage emerges as a blue water hotspot in Asia, Latin America, and Europe due to the food wastage volumes.
Therefore, scientists developed the recycling system, which is easy to operate and has the ability to generate electricity, heat, and fertilizers from food waste that usually are thrown away. Dr. Zhang Jingxin mentioned that the system operates like a biochemical belly that destroys organic substances in the environment without oxygen. The special mix of anaerobic microorganisms is applied by the system in order to effectively destroys food waste in biogas that transforms into heat and electric energy. Furthermore, all these operations can be controlled to optimize its work and maximize the safety. Specially designed sensors provide all necessary information such as the end of the process and the state of security in real time. The data comes directly to the team through the mobile app.
The heat output power different process of the system such as hot water that keeps the optimal performing temperature of 50°C of the anaerobic biogas. The produced electricity powers the computer, lights, motors, ventilators, and pumps. Excess electricity is harvested in batteries that can be applied in order to charge phones and tablets. This electricity can be applied for other purposes, for example, the lighting of buildings. The system is already used in Raffles Hall. The team is going to install such systems in local habitable areas and China. In additions, they are working on a larger, stationary system to cater to the needs of a canteen or food center. This system would be able to process up to 400 kilograms of waste food daily.