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Unpalatable idea could solve future food and fuel shortages - COMMENT UPDATE

A project that marries food production to energy from waste (EfW) plants was promoted this week at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management conference.

PhD researcher Liam Devany described his scheme as a new synergy between alien sectors. He sees it as a solution to possible future food and fuel shortages, with the added benefit that it is a natural cycle that is carbon neutral.

The radical idea puts fish and vegetable farming next to EfW plants, where energy from the plant can be used to run the farm. Biofuel would be squeezed from algae, also grown as part of the process, and any organic wastes would be reused in the EfW plant.

Devany said: There is a social acceptance issue with linking food production and waste disposal and people dont like energy plants anyway.

As food becomes more expensive, as land is given over to growing biofuels, schemes like this are a good solution. It is a holistic approach as everything joins together. People will have to accept it if they want to continue to drive and eat.
Also speaking at the conference Scottish Environment Protection Agency principal policy officer Andrew Witty commented on a wider global context: China is realising that growing biofuels as opposed to food will mean a lack of food.

Devany added: The Environment Agency has strict regulations which prevent contamination from EfW plants, so it is not an issue to grow food next to a waste plant.

The scheme uses aquaponics, a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture, to produce food and fuel. Such methods are already used in warmer climates where they are economically viable. But for it to work in the UK heating and lighting are needed, which is where the EfW comes in.

When asked about future development Devany said: I dont know if municipal authorities have the will power to tackle this and the regulations to get it built would take five years.

Municipals have their hands full with anaerobic digestion and gasification. Maybe the continent, the US or Australia will be more open to the idea.

There has been early interest in the scheme from companies including Amec.

Comment:
16/06/07
The method described in your article is practicle and it works. Grahamstown University is South Africa have been working with biofuel from pond algae for 15 years. The sytem is described on southafrican.coop. The beauty of it is that the added value is retained by the farmer or the local cooperative.
Posted by rallyround
 

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