Harvesting power from organic waste

It’s been one of those weeks with doom and gloom everywhere I seemed to look, but this positive story caught my eye – a company taking organic waste and turning it into fuel and fertilizer.

Harvest Power announced yesterday it has raised $51.7 million in Series B financing; it’s an encouraging sign that investors are seeing the value in waste.

The injection of cash will finance North America’s first commercial-scale high solids anaerobic digestion facility at its site in the Metro Vancouver region and help the company expand throughout the continent.

A high solids anaerobic digester takes waste and biochemically degrades it into organic acids. From there, naturally occurring microorganisms break those down in the absence of oxygen and produce biogas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide. After a certain amount of time in the digester, the partially degraded materials are then composted aerobically, i.e. in the presence of oxygen.

Harvest takes food scraps, green waste, scrap wood and other organics and turns them into biogas or syngas, which can be converted into electricity, heat and natural gas. The company also makes solid fuels such as “hog” fuel; which is an unprocessed mix of coarse chips of bark and wood fiber that can be used for fueling boiler systems.

With what remains after fuel-created processes, a high quality compost is created.

This isn’t a small scale operation – the company says it has already diverted over 425,000 tons of organic material from landfills in the USA and Canada.

Another aspect I love about this sort of venture are the green jobs it creates. Harvest Power already employ 150 people.

So many green-oriented jobs and career choices are available now that simply didn’t exist just a few decades ago. Attitudes towards certain type of work are also changing. Resource recovery is fast becoming recognized as an environment-saving endeavor and kudos to all involved in the sector.


Tips for reducing food waste.