Monday, July 20, 2009

Turning Waste Into Energy

Onion company is one of a growing number of businesses that use their waste to produce electricity.
Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times, July 17, 2009

Steve Gill recently began using juice from his onion crop to create energy to run his refrigerators and lighting, slicing $700,000 annually off his electric bill and saving $400,000 a year on disposal costs at his 14-acre plant in Oxnard. Gill figures the $9.5 million system will pay for itself in less than six years while eliminating up to 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions a year.

"It's a great sustainability story, but it was first a business decision to solve a waste problem," said Gill, 59, who co-owns the company with his brother David. "But in doing so, we solved a lot of environmental problems too."

Gills Onions is one of a small but growing cadre of US companies generating their own electricity on site with waste from their production processes. In addition to plant material, firms are using a variety of feedstocks, including animal manure, vegetable oil, whey -- even beer.

Farmers and processors in California's $37 billion agricultural industry are looking for ways to save money and reduce their environmental footprint, said Sonia Salas, science and technology manager for the Western Growers Association. "Many growers want technology that helps them handle waste," she said. "This is a concept that other operations can definitely use."

Read the complete story here:,0,5226835.story

No comments: