Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Power lunch: Bacteria turn leftovers to energy -

Power lunch: Bacteria turn leftovers to energy - " - The online division of The Sacramento Bee

This story is taken from Sacbee / News.
Power lunch: Bacteria turn leftovers to energy
By Edie Lau - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Tuesday, October 24, 2006

With the help of billions of hungry bacteria, a University of California, Davis, engineer has cooked up a system to extract energy from table scraps.

At a ceremony today expected to draw hundreds of people, the campus will formally introduce its $1 million 'biogas' plant.

The plant can swallow between eight and 10 tons of food waste a day, feeding tanks of microbes that, in turn, excrete hydrogen and methane -- gases that can be burned to generate electricity or fuel vehicles.

'This is a real commercial-size system,' said Ruihong Zhang, the UC Davis professor of biological and agricultural engineering who invented and patented the system after eight years of tinkering.

'This is 20,000 times larger than what we've been working with in the laboratory,' she said.

At full capacity, the plant can produce enough electricity for 10 average California households a day, said Dave Konwinski, chief executive officer of Onsite Power Systems Inc., a company that developed the system in partnership with Zhang.

Konwinski put $750,000 into the demonstration"

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