From Food Waste to Energy
Using microbial culturing strategies to improve resource recovery from food waste
About one-third of all food goes to waste, ending up in landfills and compost heaps where it breaks down into methane, a potent greenhouse gas. An alternative disposal method — the use of anaerobic digesters — generates energy from the methane biogas. But this method also creates sulfide, a corrosive byproduct that can destroy digesters. Andrew St. James is collaborating with the Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Facility and local dairy farmers to develop microbial cultures that can be added to anaerobic digesters to stabilize the microbial community, maximizing biogas production and minimizing sulfide production. The results are reduced risks associated with using anaerobic digesters to dispose of food waste and improved economic benefits for the community partners through increased biogas production.
- Graduate student: Andrew St. James, microbiology
- Special committee chair: Ruth Richardson, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
College of Engineering
- Community partner: Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Facility
- Community partner: Pro-Dairy
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