How Rotting Vegetables Make Electricity | World Wide Waste

10 tons of food goes unsold every day at this market but instead of going to a landfill it's turned into electricity that will power street lights buildings and a kitchen that preps meals for 800 people this is called biogas it's plentiful it's low tech and experts say it burns cleaner than any fossil fuel so why can't we make energy from the 1.3 billion tons of food that gets thrown out every year we visited the bon pali market in hyderabad india to find out the first step is to chop up larger vegetables and load them onto a conveyor belt some of the vegetables are spoiled others are thrown away because it costs farmers too much to transport them back home the conveyor belt carries the material to a shredder which further breaks down the food into smaller more uniform particles in a single day it handles the same amount of vegetables that 150 indians eat in a year a grinder crushes the mixture into pulp which is pumped through underground tanks and into two digesters so anaerobic digesters basically have bacteria which are operated in the absence of oxygen or anaerobic bacteria and they actually eat essentially the food waste that we are putting in there and give out methane and carbon dioxide any organic materials emit these planet warming gases as they decompose but the massive amount of food waste makes landfills the third largest source of human-caused methane emissions just behind fossil fuels and agriculture burning biogas to make electricity is a way to harvest those gases before they enter the atmosphere at bowen pulley the fuel can be stored locally in four huge balloons until it's ready to use and it goes all the way to the kitchen which is about roughly 400 500 meters away from here it's enough power to run a canteen kitchen that serves roughly 800 meals per day aside from energy the plant creates another valuable by-product fertilizer farmers who sell their wares at the market buy it back and spread it on the same fields where their vegetables grow by using this fertilizer their soils are also getting better their crops yields are better and the crops are being sold at higher cost because organic vegetables are very costly nowadays you know organic rice and all these things dr rayo a scientist on the project is already building five more plants around the city and it isn't limited to vegetables biogas can be produced from any organic material including animal and human feces so if biogas can be locally sourced cuts down on solid waste and reduces emissions why aren't we all doing this because in most countries it's still cheaper to keep burning fossil fuels in north america biogas costs nearly five times more than natural gas now you can't compete with what you call gas in the united states it's 20 cents a gallon this gap is smaller in places like asia where the difference in price is less than two dollars per unit a lot of people a lot of uh state governments who were thinking about setting up these projects have suddenly of understood that yes it's possible to do it yes there are technologies which are indigenous which are built in india that can work for them the world's biggest biogas plant was recently built in denmark and new facilities are being built elsewhere in europe and africa an israeli company sells a product to make biogas in your backyard [Music] biogas will never replace natural gas there's just not enough waste to keep up with the demand for electricity but it does something that natural gas can it helps reduce landfill waste and it's a huge missed opportunity in the united states which throws out between 30 and 40 percent of all food even the farmers who lose money when they can't sell their produce believe biogas is better than just throwing it away [Music] from and the engineers on the bow and pali project are hopeful that its success will inspire others so these projects have to happen you know for us to make life more sustainable not just for ourselves but for let's save in 20 years or 10 years down the line the scenario needs to be a little better you

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