UC Davis turns trash into clean energy

The university's new Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester will provide power to almost 1,000 homes for a year.

DAVIS, Calif.—Within the dining halls at the University of California, Davis, tossed-out food scraps have recently become empowered—quite literally.

Waste is being converted to power in the campus’s newly unveiled Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester (“biodigester” for short), a set of large, white tanks that eat 50 tons of trash per day and burp out 12,000 kilowatt hours of renewable electricity, right into the campus’s grid. That’s enough to power almost 1,000 homes for a year, says a UC Davis release.

The mound of trash feeding the biodigester is composed of not just UC Davis cafeteria food scraps, but also campus yard clippings and waste from local restaurants and businesses. The system is expected divert 20,000 tons of waste from local landfills each year.

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