An innovative research project is underway at the University of Guelph that seeks to turn food waste into energy.
Engineering professor Animesh Dutta and his team received $177,127 this month through the Canada Foundation for Innovation to explore how agri-food waste can be transformed into bio-carbon, as a potential replacement for coal, and petroleum.
Dutta says it’s a resource looking for an opportunity.
“It’s called hydro-thermal carbonization” he said. “You cook this waste underwater, so you don’t need to dry it up and the water content, you have all the nutrients.”
This process he says can produce bio-products that have many applications, particularly in the automotive industry.
Countries such as Austria and Germany, he says, are already applying similar methods to provide heat.
Dutta is currently working with greenhouses in Leamington, Ont., that discards scraps like tomato vines.
His research project is aimed at demonstrating how the food-to-fuel process eliminates waste removal costs and has the potential to create a closed loop system where bio-products are used to heat the space and nutrient-rich water goes back into the soil.
Dutta says eventually he would like to establish self-sustaining greenhouses that could be used in communities in northern Ontario.