New technology harnesses microbe-driven biofuels

Container full of domestic food waste, ready to be composted in the home garden. Food recycling and environment concept. copy space

A new technology developed by Ohio researchers advances the promise of biofuels by using microbes to break down biomass and degradable wastes.

In anaerobic digestion, microbes break down biodegradable materials such as corn stover, wheat straw or food waste into biogas, a renewable energy source. The patented research discovery combines anaerobic digestion with another kind of oxygen-less digestion available commercially in liquid form. This results in improved efficiency, lower costs and increased production of biogas.

The research also identified food wastes as the most promising feedstock for the new combined technology. Food waste digestion increased the yield of biogas by up to 150% over other sources.

Researchers continue to enhance performance and economic feasibility of the technology, with the goal of industry adoption. The technology could improve the value of feedstocks for producers and reduce the amount of wastes previously destined for the landfill.