Well, as far as I’m aware, that’s exactly what one California grower’s been doing since July 2009.
“… Gills Onions, the nation’s largest fresh onion processor, and developer of the onion juice-fueled Advanced Energy Recovery System” on Jul. 16, 2009 in a company press release announced plans to introduce AERS the next day at 10 a.m. at its Oxnard, California headquarters.
The grower in the release further explaining:
“By extracting the juice from onion waste and letting it ferment in a special processing system, Gills Onions can create enough ‘juice’ to power 460 homes through two 300-kilowatt fuel cells. The innovative and cost-saving technology converts 100 percent of 300,000 pounds of onion waste daily into ultra-clean electrical energy, heat, and high-value cattle feed, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by up to 30,000 tons per year.”
One-hundred-fifty tons (300,000 pounds) of daily waste from onions amounts to, conservatively, somewhere in the neighborhood of 39,000 tons in a year (150 tons x 5 days x 52 weeks) of onion waste. Thirty-nine-thousand tons being 39,000 tons, that’s a lot of waste. Imagine if all that waste was going to a landfill instead. At Gills Onions it’s not and that’s the real beauty of AERS: the onion waste is staying out of the waste stream and is instead going towards energy production – ultra-clean energy production.
In the release, the company moreover wrote: “In the new world of renewable energy, California onion bulbs now will power light bulbs — the common vegetable has transitioned from a simple vegetable to a mini power plant.”
Think: onion power.
The Oxnard, California grower, being committed to sustainability, in a Feb. 4, 2010 press release stated: “Since 2008, Gills Onions has voluntarily measured, managed and reported its greenhouse gas emissions.”
Personally, I know of no other enterprise doing this – anywhere. On that February day, Gills Onions in the release announced that they had become Climate Registered™ “by The Climate Registry, a non-profit greenhouse gas emissions registry in North America.”
Are Gills Onions and the Advanced Energy Recovery System making a positive difference? I would say so!
Now, if only more businesses follow suit and they themselves become more environmentally conscious.
Photo credit: Stephen Ausmus, U.S.D.A. Agricultural Research Service
– Alan Kandel