The Power of Trash: Turning Waste into Biofuel

By Andrea Vittorio and Miranda Green

How many times a week do you take out the garbage? That sticky, icky, smelly trash leaves your home and heads for the landfill. But what if you could turn that waste into energy?

Biogas digesters work like a contained compost pile, but instead of producing fertilizer, they generate methane gas. Take a tank, then add a dash of paper products, a pinch of leftover food, a splash of water and voila: biodegradable gumbo ready to heat.

The methane gas comes from the decomposition of paper and food waste. The enclosed biofuel tank captures the gas, which can then be funneled through pipes to be converted into energy to heat stoves, ovens, water heaters and more.

After one day of stewing in a 663-liter tank, your trash ingredients will produce enough energy to power a 100-watt light bulb for 7 hours. All you have to do is pour in your waste.

Sound tempting? Tricia Reville, a senior at the George Washington University, wants to bring biofuel technology to businesses in Washington, D.C. Watch Tricia explain her recipe for success here.

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