During the last annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, a group of researchers presented a new concept for generating electricity from tomato waste from processing and damaged tomatoes unsuitable for sale.
Producing electricity from food waste is possible, with tomato waste more precisely. A pilot project was presented last week during the last annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, with leftover tomatoes from harvests in the state of Florida, which generates approximately 396,000 tons of tomato waste each year. on their own.
» We wanted to find a way to deal with waste that, when dumped in landfills, can produce methane – a potent greenhouse gas – and when dumped in waterways, can create major water treatment problems says Venkataramana Gadhamshetty, one of the researchers in charge of the project.
To exploit this tomato waste and produce electricity, the researchers used a somewhat special fuel cell, a biological fuel cell, which uses bacteria to operate. In this biological fuel cell, an oxidation process, resulting from the interaction of bacteria with rotten tomatoes, releases electrons which are captured by the fuel cell, to become a source of electricity.
Another advantage of this process is the role of mediator. It is a kind of chemical compound that can transfer electrons to the electrode, where they can be used in the form of electricity. This mediator is generally a toxic compound, but here, this role is played by lycopene, a tomato compound, a natural pigment from the carotene family.
This device makes it possible to generate 0.3 watts of electricity with 10 milligrams of tomato waste. According to these researchers, it is entirely possible to increase electricity production by several orders of magnitude by continuing research.