Australia, feeling acutely the impact of global warming, is trying its hand at sustainable energy of varying kinds. The latest is from banana waste.
Growcom, a peak horticulture organisation, has set up a commercial project based on the research of Bill Clarke of the University of Queensland.
AdvertisementIt was two years ago that Bill Clarke, proved it was a possibility.
Subsequently, Dr Clarke, supported by the Queendland Government through the Qld Sustainable Energy Innovation Fund (QSEIF), Ergon Energy, and The Australian Banana Growers' Association stepped up the research further.
"We demonstrated in 2004-2005 that waste bananas and stalk material within the banana bunch are a great source of methane," Dr Clarke said.
"There are no technical problems with producing methane from bananas.
"However, for the process to be economically viable, we need to develop a cheaper and simpler digester compared to those that are currently used for organic waste in Europe."
While extracting methane from bananas is technically possible, it is no simple task.
"Methane is produced by loading the bananas into an air tight reactor, with careful control of pH and, ideally, temperature.
"The Australian Banana Growers' Association have built a pilot scale bladder reactor which sits in an excavation in the ground.
"The bladder contains the bananas and biogas," Dr Clarke said.
Biogas is the combination of methane and carbon dioxide and is the name given to fuel derived from organic matter.
It is the biogas produced from bananas which could potentially be used as an alternative energy source, Dr Clarke said.
"The biogas can either be stored at moderate pressure, possibly for use as a transportation fuel, or directed to a gas engine to generate electricity, as is currently done in Australia at a number of landfills."