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Efficient Electricity Production from Onion Juice


Common onion - Allium cepaThe future lifestyle is quite different than we could imagine right now. Many experts predict that we will not need to transport our energy around the world as it will be produced in our community.

A very realistic plan is the one of the Gill brothers, Steve and David, who have designed an Advanced Energy Recovery System (AERS). Nothing new up to here, but their system produces energy from onions.

Owners of Gill Onions, the largest fresh onion processing plant in the world, the two brothers were looking for ways to reduce energy costs in the farming activity. What’s very important to mention is that Gills Onions has more than 15,000 acres of farmland and 300,000 feet of processing and warehousing facilities which is quite impressive. The experiment was born from the desire of having enough energy to run the lighting and refrigerators with the use of onion juice.

When the dream became reality it started to save money, and from some calculations Gills Onions could save $700,000 a year on the energy bill and $400,000 a year on disposal costs. $3 million were received from the government to continue the research, which cost up to know $9.5  million. But the reimbursement of the investment is approximated to 6 years at current energy prices.

The benefits for the environment are great if we consider that CO2 reduction per year is about 30,000 tons(equivalent to the pollution of 5,000 cars per year). Besides this, the company produces extra energy to power 460 houses.

The system works by converting methane from fermented juice into energy burned in two on-site fuel cells. After the juice is extracted from the onions, it is sent to a 145,000-gallon holding tank kept at a temperature of 95 degrees. Inside, bacteria (the same used to ferment beer) produce methane gas by feasting on the carbohydrates in the fermenting juice. The gas is purified, dehumidified, compressed, and burned in the fuel cells at temperatures that exceed 1,000 degrees. The output of the system is about 600-kilowatt. The Gills plan to install also battery components to store energy for future use.

Methane is the ultimate solution for future communities to power their home and cars with electricity and for sure it can be obtained from a lot of waste that our actual communities produce. Let’s hope this will be implemented world wide very fast.

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