Pumpkins, Power & Energy
November 2, 2011
1.4 billion pounds, that’s a lot of pumpkin. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pumpkins are grown in nearly every state, the top five producing states as of last year are Illinois, California, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Per the USDA website:
Ornamental and home processing use accounts for about three-fourths of the U.S. pumpkin crop, with the other fourth used for commercial processing (largely canning). Pumpkin use for all purposes has been trending upward – reaching an estimated 1.4 billion pounds in 2010, an average of 4.6 pounds per person.
After Halloween, tons of seasonal decorations become trash destined for compost heaps or landfills. But in some place, like Oakland, California. Thanks to the pioneering work of the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), anaerobic digestion is being used to convert food waste into energy.
A ton of food waste can provide about 367 m3 of gas, and digesting 100 tons of food wastes five days a week can generate enough electricity to power 1,000 homes. Or if you like to think big, think of this fact from the USDA:
If 50% of US food waste was anaerobically digested it would generate enough electricity to power 2.5 million homes for a full year.
Once the food waste has been digested, the remaining solids make an excellent natural fertilizer, so they can be used to get next year’s pumpkin crop started…..and the cycle begins again!