Waste-to-energy company Blue Sphere has broken ground on both its first waste-to-energy project and new US headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The facility will produce 5.2 MW of clean energy from food waste that would normally end up in local landfills. That electricity will then be sold to Duke Energy to provide power to local homes and businesses.
The National Resources Defense Council estimates that about 40 percent of food is wasted in the US every year, amounting to a $165-billion loss.
Blue Sphere hopes to be up and operational by the end of the year and to have 11 additional facilities around the world built by 2018.
Blue Sphere generates electricity from biogas derived from organic waste, which is mostly food waste, and sells this electricity to leading electric companies through long-term power purchase agreements.
Waste-to-energy is one of the fastest growing segments in the renewable energy markets. According to SBI Energy, the thermal and biological segments reached $6 billion in 2012 and will reach $29 billion by 2022.
Research published earlier this week found that pretreating food waste with a combination of steam and pressure, in a machine known as an autoclave, will double the throughput of an anaerobic digester and significantly reduce the amount of ammonia concentrations by denaturing proteins.
For the plant operator, this means that by using an autoclave, they can potentially double the throughput of the plant and in doing so, they would double revenues for only a marginal increase in operating costs, since the autoclave uses waste heat from the CHP process.