Cattle are highly efficient at digesting hard materials, and a proposed energy production system based, in part, on the cow stomachs, could generate 40 percent more energy from municipal waste streams, at a reduced cost of 20 percent, and provide a viable alternative to sending waste to landfills.
That's the goal of a $ 6.8 million effort to increase the efficiency of how we convert organic solid waste from garbage and sewage into methane, a pipeline-ready renewable fuel.
Led by the University of Michigan, the project includes partnerships with the Argonne National Laboratory, Northwestern University, and others. The US Department of Energy is providing $ 5 million of the funding.
“It is time for us to change our thinking as a society. These organic materials are just waste in the sense that we bury them in landfills or compost them. We are throwing away valuable raw material. We believe we have created a highly scalable solution to meet the needs of an urbanized world, "said Steve Skerlos, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and co-principal investigator on the project.
The effort, Led by Lutgarde Raskin, Vernon L. Snoeyink Distinguished University Professor of Environmental Engineering, and professor of civil and environmental engineering, it goes beyond technology development to build a collaboration that will deploy the system in society and educate the workforce needed to operate it. .