Fri. Sep 22nd, 2023
    BYU Scientists Transform Waste Into Renewable Power With Unprecedented Efficiency

    BYU scientists Jaron Hansen and Zach Aanderud have developed a groundbreaking technology to convert waste into renewable power with exceptional efficiency. Traditionally, anaerobic digesters have been used in farming facilities to convert cow manure into renewable energy, but with limited efficiency of 30-40%. Hansen and Aanderud have improved the process by pretreating the waste with a special bacteria, boosting methane gas capture efficiency to 80-85%.

    The waste pretreatment involves converting the waste into small, chained molecules, creating a sludgy soup that can be pumped into existing digesters to produce usable natural gas. This innovative process significantly reduces the time required for complete breakdown, from the conventional 30-45 days to just one to two days of pretreatment and five to seven days in a regular digester.

    The secret ingredient in the pretreatment is a combination of bacteria and archaea that thrive in extreme environments. These microorganisms, known as hyperthermophiles, can survive in temperatures ranging from 170-230 degrees Fahrenheit. The waste pretreatment technology requires a deep understanding of chemistry, genetics, and sequencing to ensure its effectiveness.

    The benefits of this technology are significant. By capturing methane waste and using it to power homes, it not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but also reuses methane that is already being released into the environment. This renewable energy source can help reduce reliance on fossil fuels and fracking, while also preventing water contamination from toxic waste spills.

    Real-world applications of the waste pretreatment technology have already shown promising results. Dairy farms in Indiana and Wisconsin have implemented the pretreatment process in their everyday operations, showcasing the potential for wider adoption and its positive impact on waste reduction and renewable energy generation.

    Source: BYU scientists Jaron Hansen and Zach Aanderud develop technology to transform waste into renewable power with unprecedented efficiency.

    – Anaerobic digesters: systems used to break down organic waste in the absence of oxygen, producing renewable energy in the form of biogas.
    – Methane: a potent greenhouse gas that is commonly produced as a byproduct of decomposition processes.
    – Hyperthermophiles: microorganisms that thrive in extremely high temperatures.
    – Fossil fuels: non-renewable energy sources, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, formed from the remains of plants and animals over millions of years.
    – Fracking: the process of extracting natural gas or oil from deep underground by injecting water, chemicals, and sand under high pressure.

    Sources: BYU scholars improve anaerobic digestion, decrease greenhouses gases and production time