Food waste to energy
A joint venture by Cleanaway and Veolia, EarthPower is the region’s first food waste-to-energy facility located in Camellia, NSW. Earthpower accepts solid and liquid food waste streams from the industrial, commercial and residential sectors and converts it to green energy and nutrient-rich fertiliser.
The EarthPower facility can process over 52,500 tonnes of food organics per annum. It uses anerobic digestion technology which converts food waste to green energy in the form of combustible gas. This green energy is used to power more than 3,600 homes.
As a sustainable waste disposal facility, it offers a closed loop solution for all types of food waste and maximises diversion from landfill.
Opened in 2003, the EarthPower food organics processing facility offered a sustainable and economical alternative to landfill for items including fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, and grease trap and bulk-packaged waste. The facility faced significant challenges and, following an initial capital outlay of $35m which exceeded the initial budget, the operation struggled to source the optimal volume and quality of material.
In 2007, Cleanaway (then Transpacific) formed a joint venture with Veolia and purchased the EarthPower business. Processing around 30,000 tonnes per annum at the time, operations were taken back to first principles and significant investment was made to upgrade the facility.
A new liquid and sludge receiving area, upgraded digester mixing system, and upgraded water treatment plant, coupled with improved maintenance and innovative management has increased plant capacity. The facility now accepts an average of almost 870 tonnes per week of food organics. The electricity is sold into the grid for distribution to domestic, commercial and industrial customers.
How we do itEarthPower uses anaerobic digestion technology in converting solid and liquid food waste into gas. Its by-product, a nutrient rich sludge is dried and turned into pellets, for sale as fertiliser in agriculture, as well as industrial and residential horticulture markets. This capability reduces the need for creating new synthetic fertilisers.
EarthPower collects a variety of liquid food waste including grease traps and semi liquid sludges. It also collects cooked, raw, processed and packaged food waste. The trucks tip solid food waste and liquid food waste in two separate pits.
Solid food is then conveyed into the hydropulper with water, which tears apart any form of packaging from the food waste.
Food waste is sent to the digester tanks, which produce biogas. The biogas automatically transfers to the cogeneration engines which creates green electricity, powering the local energy grid. The heat from the engine is also sent to a drying plant to help make fertiliser. Liquids left over from the process is sent to a water treatment plant.