Using Agricultural Waste To Power Food Processing & Cold Storage Facilities
THE SOLUTION AND MARKET OPPORTUNITY
Let’s assume there is an abundance of agricultural waste generated by a farming area (say 5,000 pounds/day cumulative from area farmers) that can be fed into our WTE Unit and used to create about 80-100kW/h of electricity.
Farmers bring this agricultural waste to a centralized storage area. The more waste they bring, the more space they can procure to use in a food processing & cold storage building. This building is 100% powered by the collected ag waste as the waste is sent to the combustor where it produces the waste heat to generate the energy needed. With enough waste, this facility will operate 24/7 during peak harvesting seasons, and also during the rest of the year for other uses. Thus, we reward farmers who bring more of their waste because they’ll have more benefits of using the food processing and cold storage facility.
With this building, farmers can process their food faster and keep their food from spoiling and hopefully receive higher prices as they manage market supply/demand, especially during peak demand. The building can also house other farming related activities, including light industry uses, as well as educational and local community uses. The opportunity exists to let the community help determine the maximum productivity uses for the 24/7/365 power.
What may also differentiate our system from other competitive solutions is our ability to be “mobile” and use one unit to service multiple farming communities in a regional area that have crops with alternating seasonal harvesting periods. We can literally move our unit from one farming region to another farming region to not only time the seasonal harvests of different types of crops, but also better allow the farmers to meet the supply/demands of these crops in the marketplace within a set period of time. Perhaps 4 months in Area A, 4 months in Area B and 4 months in Area C for 3 different types of crops in 3 different areas.
THE AGRICULTURE WASTE PROBLEM
The world produces a great amount of agricultural waste in the production of food. Certain types of agricultural waste are excellent sources of fuel, such as bagasse. While this waste, in developing countries, may be used first by farmers to provide nutrients to the land as compost or to feed animals, there exists a large amount of waste that is unused. Waste to energy projects are sprouting up around the world where economical. Factors include transportation costs to the biomass facility, ability to recapture the energy via connectivity to the grid, and wholesale rates paid by the local utility or retail rates avoided if the energy can be reused by a nearby industrial facility, instead.
THE “COLD STORAGE” ENERGY PROBLEM FROM FARM TO RETAILERS
“Up to 40% of food produced in the developing world is wasted before it reaches the market, according to figures from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). With the number of middle-class consumers predicted to rise to three billion by 2030, and the majority of that growth in developing countries, tackling this problem is no small feat – particularly as rising affluence in urban areas is likely to trigger a higher demand for richer diets and more complex food supply chains.
Lack of access to cold chain technology and reliable energy sources are the major reasons for crops perishing after harvest, research by Nottingham University shows. The cost of delivering energy to remote, rural regions means that, even when storage facilities are built, they may nevertheless stand empty. Poor transport infrastructure causes further losses, and a lack of education on post-harvest practices often results in poor quality control and food being damaged during handling.
“Without the technology, expertise and understanding necessary to keep their harvest fresh, smallholder farmers are often locked into a cycle of poverty, unable to access global markets,” says Dr Lisa Kitinoja, founder of the Postharvest Education Foundation.”
Potential Use Cases
We wrote brief writeups for each of these use cases to illustrate the different ways our unit can be deployed, especially due to its mobility.
Our strategic plan is to focus on just one or two areas, initially, based on market receptivity, ROI, and overall socio-economic benefits derived from simultaneously destroying waste and producing energy.
In 2016, we wrote up 3 solutions that showcase the larger global impact of our WTE combustor: For refugee camps, for destroying plastic, and as an alternative to landfill, especially in developing countries.