Onions make you cry, add flavor to food and are touted for their medicinal benefits. Now the vegetable has another use -powering up green energy.
A new system debuts that converts onion juice into electricity at Gills Onions, the largest fresh onion processor in the United States.
The Oxnard, California -based company expects its new onion-fueled power to reduce its electric bill by $700,000 a year and cut its annual greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30,000 tons.
The happy ending to this green energy tale, however, started with another question: how to get rid of onion waste.
"When we peel an onion, 35 to 40 percent of the onion comes off before we have a usable onion. That′s the top, tail and skin around the onion before you get to the meat," said Steven Gill, co-owner of the 25-year-old company.
They used to haul the waste to the fields for composting, but that became a problem. Ten years ago. Gill started looking at technology for a solution, including microturbines.
"We ended up shredding the skins as they come out of the plant and extracting all the juice. which is very high in sugars. and bacteria love that stuff." Gill said.
In the new system, bacteria produce methane5 gas from the juice. The gas then goes to two 300 kilowatt fuel cells, creating enough power for 460 homes. The company expects to get 35 to 40 percent of its electricity from the on-site generator.
而在新系统中，这些细菌可以通过洋葱汁产生甲饶，然后这些气体通过两块 300千瓦的燃料电池，其产生的电量足够460户居民的日常用电。该绿色发电系统有望承担该公司 35%-40%的用电量。