Onion grower powers up on its own juice

July 17, 2009

The green industry prides itself on innovation, perhaps especially in California, one of the most environmentally progressive states.

So it should be no surprise that a company in California has made headlines with a new technology that converts onion juice into electricity. Read about it here.

The company, Oxnard, Calif.-based Gills Onions, has been working on the project for years. But Steven Gill, co-owner of the family-owned company, didn’t set out with green energy as his goal. Gill just wanted to figure how to get rid of his onion waste in a sustainable, responsible way. Trucking excess onion tops, tails and skins out to the fields for composting was becoming a big hassle – and expensive.

In his research, and help from engineers at University of California at Davis and others, he discovered he could use the onion waste, especially the juice, in an anaerobic digester to create gas and then power up fuel cells. He ended up killing two birds with one stone. He got rid of his waste and created a clean energy source for his processing plant.

Gill said he’s gotten a lot of interest from other companies, including a carrot grower and processor. Will more food growers follow suit? Will we soon have fuel from not just onions, but carrots and potatoes and other vegetables?

— Reporting by Laura Isensee

(Photo Credit: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth. A vendor holds a string of onions at his stall at the annual “Zibelemaerit” onion market in Bern, Switzerland.)

One comment

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Great initiative, that’s what some farmers are already doing, they collect methane gas from dung tanks and use it as green energy.

Posted by Nikkei 225 | Report as abusive

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