Iowa plant manager wants to convert food waste into fuel
August 20, 2017
MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) — An eastern Iowa city is working to become the first in the state to convert food waste from restaurants, groceries and homes into renewable fuel for vehicles.
Muscatine Water Pollution Control Director Jon Koch has been working to implement a system in the city since 2012, the Muscatine Journal reported .
Koch said many locations in Europe, California and New York have switched to compressed natural gas to help with full landfills and high gas prices. About 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes to a landfill.
"Heinz estimates it puts about 10 to 15 tons of waste a day into the landfill, and that's mostly packaged material," Koch said. "But all that ketchup and material is perfect to make gas in our digesters."
The Water Pollution Control Plant installed waste digesters in 2010. The digesters already produce methane gas which could be turned into clean-burning fuel, Koch said.
"Methane gas is 20 times more damaging as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide," Koch said. "So by capturing that methane and using it for something good, we're actually helping to reduce greenhouse gases, as well."
A new machine would be used to separate packaging materials from food. The organic material would then be converted into gas which could be used to fuel public transportation buses, semi-trucks and police cars.
Koch hopes construction on the machine will begin within the next year. The plant has spent about $200,000 on the project so far and estimates the total cost could reach as much as $3 million.
"Right now, everybody pays more for gas than we do, but I'm not confident that's going to last," he said.
Information from: Muscatine Journal, http://www.muscatinejournal.com