Ecotone Blog

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What on Earth is Anaerobic Digestion?

So we get it, you’re thinking, “Wow, Ecotone is so cool, but like, what is it they actually do?” We have our Seahorse system, a big machine (her name is Ophelia) and it just takes in food and out plops some fertilizer and energy, but how? 

 

Anaerobic digestion is the process of microorganisms breaking down organic material without oxygen being present. So basically, think about your stomach. You eat food, it goes inside, and then later, well...out comes some gas and…. other things. Ophelia is doing the same thing! We blend up some food, pump it into her stomach and then later out comes some gas and other things (fertilizer)! More specifically: methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen -- we take these and turn them into electricity. 

 

This process, anaerobic digestion, naturally occurs in soil and water sediments, but is a process that people have been using since the 10th Century to warm up bathwater. 1895 was the first time the methane produced in this process was used in a lamp and the process has been ever evolving. 

 

So, why anaerobic digestion? Food waste produces a ridiculous amount of methane. When that waste goes into the landfill, that gas will be released into the atmosphere and contribute to the greenhouse effect (meaning climate change). 

 

Why not compost? You can definitely compost! We encourage composting and do it ourselves. Unfortunately, composting is also incredibly labor intensive to turn, so it is hard to maintain. Additionally, this is an aerobic process, meaning oxygen is involved, which also means a lot of carbon dioxide is produced and released into the atmosphere. Composted food waste also takes at least three months to degrade into fertilizer, while our Seahorse system can break down food waste in under a month.

 

We hope that this answered your questions and if you have any more reach out to us! Get excited, because anaerobic digestion is the future of a greener and more circular food system.