De-centralised biorefinery

New York City produces almost four million tons of waste every year, almost a third of which is food waste.

Over the past few years, the Kartik Chandran laboratories at Columbia University have been trialling ways to turn food waste into high-value end-products, resulting in a de-centralised urban biorefinery. Working with high-concentration feedstock (products undiluted by water), the bio-refinery converts the organic carbon in the feedstock into products such as biodiesel, lipids and bioplastics. Anaerobic fermentation is used to produce aqueous chemical monomers as opposed to gaseous biogas, meaning that the end product can be further converted into a wide spectrum of household chemicals and fuels, creating a higher economic and energy value.

Columbia University

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