Economically Sound Substitute to Fossil Fuels on the Horizon?

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Could researchers in Toronto have found a way to turn the problem of food waste into the solution to sustainable fuel?

In our fossil fuel-dependent society substitute fuels are a huge line of research. The quest to find an affordable and viable replacement to ___ has engaged scientists and researchers for years. Realization of this goal would change the world. Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Toronto, Canada have been studying ways to convert food waste into a biodegradable chemical that could be used to replace some petroleum based chemicals in products like plastic packaging, and have also discovered that it has the potential to act as an affordable replacement to fossil fuels.

Hyung-Sool Lee, an engineering professor at the University of Waterloo and one of the lead researchers on the project points out the huge potential that food waste holds as a resource, as the industry has a current economic loss of 1.3 trillion USD each year. Converting food waste to fuel is not a new idea, but the anaerobic digestion practices of the past have yielded mixed results as when the cost and labor of the process is accounted for, the economic and environmental cost is only marginally better. The Canadian researchers’ method using leachate is much more cost effective, and the scale can be controlled, made smaller or larger as needed–a necessary detail if this source of fuel is to replace current fuels used by the entire populace. The next steps in Lee’s research are to test the process on a larger scale, with the hopes of commercializing the practice in the near future. Find the full article here

Written by Heather Merrifield