Will kitchens become the new gas stations?
Home brew Photo: E-Fuel Corporation
What do you do with the food left on your plate at the end of the meal? For many of us, the answer is a guilty shrug: it goes straight in the bin. All those little scrapings of chips and peas add up to a mountain of lost resources. Indeed, it is estimated that up to half of the food produced for the US market goes to waste; and, in the UK, up to 6.7 million tonnes of household food is binned each year. Council food recycling schemes remain sporadic, so as little as 3% of this organic treasure is composted or sent to anaerobic digestion plants. The remainder is sent to landfill, where it gradually decomposes, leaching out methane into the atmosphere.
But now you can scrape your plate straight into a domestic fuel conversion system. Californian start-up E-Fuel has launched a reactor capable of converting organic kitchen waste, and any cellulosic materials such as wood, into sugar water within just two minutes. The 'MicroFusion Reactor' is a standalone appliance which uses hydrolysis to break down the raw materials.
The only by-product is lignin powder, a valuable ingredient used in many pharmaceuticals. Of course, that's just part one of the process: you then need to turn the sugar water into ethanol for fuel. But this too can be done in the home. You simply feed the sugar water (adding in any waste alcohol you may have lying about) into a portable converter – the MicroFueler, also by E-Fuel – which comprises distillation apparatus and a holding tank. Thanks to "state-of-the-art semiconductor technology", the company claims, the whole process is combustion-free. Read More