SOUTHINGTON: To many the next frontier in the green movement is food waste. Quantum Biopower in mid November opened Connecticut’s first “anaerobic digester” to turn food waste into energy.
Anaerobic digesting is not a new technology, far from it, Quantum’s own managing director Brian Paganini acknowledges it’s been around for several “hundred of years.” Simply put an organic compound – read food waste is placed in a sealed container without oxygenm add anaerobic bacteria, they do their work in the absence of oxygen and the little guys go to work breaking down the food waste and turning it into biogas [methane] which is then used to generate electricity.
Quantum’s facility is located at 49 DePaolo Drive in Southington and is expected to process 40,000 tons of organic waste generating 12 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 700 homes according to the company. Quantum say’s Connecticut’s total food waste stream is about “500,000 tons annually.”
While the technology has been around it still took three years for the company to license, design and build the plant. The $14 million dollar facility was helped along with a $2 million dollar low interest loan from the Connecticut’s Green Bank. The company says it will take several months before they can get all the bacteria they need growing and humming along.
Paganini explains, “we have simply applied different pieces of technology and equipment to solve a recycling and renewable energy issue.” Several communities have halted waste to energy facilities in the past over issues of traffic, and perceived pollution but the state has a mandate to reduce waste by 60% in the next eight years
Function attendees at the Aqua Turf in Southington can feel a little less guilty about leaving their chicken or mash potatoes on the plate at their next banquet. Quantum has signed up the facility to handle their waste. Shoprite Supermarkets is also on board and Yale University had been sending food waste to a more distant composting operation and now is expected to send a 1,000 tons of waste to the facility. Connecticut mandates most food waste generators producing two or more tons of food waste per week to separate out that waste from their other garbage and send it to a compost facility or digester for recycling.