The new digester at the campus’ former landfill is designed to convert 50 tons of organic waste tons of organic waste to 12,000 kilowatts of energy daily, diverting 20,000 tons of waste annually, according to a news release.
It uses a technology developed by Ruihong Zhang, a professor of biological and agricultural engineering at the university. It is the third commercial biodigester Sacramento-based CleanWorld has opened using Zhang’s technology in the past two years and is the nation’s largest anaerobic biodigester on a college campus.
Zhang’s technology is touted as more efficient, consuming a broader variety and bigger quantity of waste and turning it into energy faster and more consistently than other commercial anaerobic biodigesters.
The new AD facility blends landfill gases for the college’s closed landfill with biogas. Campus waste is converted to renewable energy using Zhang’s technology. What is not converted into biogas will be used as fertilizer and soil amendments.
“It has been the thrust of my research to bring the innovations we made possible at UC Davis to commercial scale,” Zhang said. “This technology can change the way we manage our solid waste. It will allow us to be more economically and environmentally sustainable.”
The university said the facility cost about $8.5 million, about two-thirds less than other AD facilities the university researched as potential energy sources. CleanWorld financed the majority of the project.