Forget about doggie bags. Several of San Francisco's finest restaurants will be turning table scraps into electricity with technology from the University of California, Davis. Using an anaerobic phased solids digester, the Biogas Energy Project will process eight tons of organic matter a week into energy. Each ton can produce enough electricity to power 10 average California homes for a day.
While many wastewater treatment plants and livestock farms use similar systems, the bacteria in UC Davis' system can process a wider variety of waste, including food scraps, animal manure, and rice straw. It also works in about half the time of other digesters. And, it produces both hydrogen and methane, which can be burned to produce electricity and heat.
UC Davis has teamed with Onsite Power Systems to sell similar production facilities to waste-generating businesses such as food processors, farms, and municipal green-waste collection agencies. Onsite will scale the digester to fit the customer's property, take the waste stream, and send back the energy. This process reduces greenhouse gasses as well as the amount of garbage going into already crowded landfills.