Soup and cow manure make electricity and compost
By Gregory Jackson
(A grounding hopper inside CH4BioGas’ new anaerobic digester in Napoleon, Ohio near Toledo, grounds Campbell’s Soup cans so that soup is separated from tin can. The tin becomes cylindrical, and drops into a container for recycling.)
Pallets and skids line atop of each other. Fork lift operates remove pallet after pallet of Campbell’s Soup cans, still shrink wrapped in plastic wrap and boxes. CH4BioGas is even able to recycle all cardboard and plastic wrap, along with tin before the food waste is recycled in the stomach for anaerobic digestion. Our unusual long winter caused hundreds of thousands of soup cans to freeze, causing the soup to go bad.
Campbell’s Soup is working with CH4BioGas, an anaerobic digester company that specializes in recycling organic waste for electricity. CH4 is the periodic table compound for methane, which fuels a generator that produces electricity. The electricity is purchased by Campbell’s Soup to help power their Napoleon, Ohio plant. Other companies also haul in food waste for recycling.
How it works. After the food waste is source separated from its packaging, it goes into a “stomach” for anaerobic digestion: Hot water mixes with food waste and cow manure in the absence of oxygen for about a month. As the material breaks down, methane (from the cow manure) reacts with food waste to house a dome full of methane gas. The digestate – the remaining material gets cycled through 3 pasteurization tanks – and outputs natural compost.
The only byproduct is natural compost called biosolids. Groundz recycling visited CH4BioGas this week to receive a tour and begin discussion on biosolids interest among our customers and sustainable education initiatives. The material resembles fine topsoil with scents of barn.