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Environ Sci Technol. 2017 Feb 7;51(3):1120-1128. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.6b04591. Epub 2017 Jan 25.

Bioenergy Potential from Food Waste in California.

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Energy Technologies Area, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory , Berkeley, California 94720, United States.
Joint BioEnergy Institute , Emeryville, California 94608, United States.


Food waste makes up approximately 15% of municipal solid waste generated in the United States, and 95% of food waste is ultimately landfilled. Its bioavailable carbon and nutrient content makes it a major contributor to landfill methane emissions, but also presents an important opportunity for energy recovery. This paper presents the first detailed analysis of monthly food waste generation in California at a county level, and its potential contribution to the state's energy production. Scenarios that rely on excess capacity at existing anaerobic digester (AD) and solid biomass combustion facilities, and alternatives that allow for new facility construction, are developed and modeled. Potential monthly electricity generation from the conversion of gross food waste using a combination of AD and combustion varies from 420 to 700 MW, averaging 530 MW. At least 66% of gross high moisture solids and 23% of gross low moisture solids can be treated using existing county infrastructure, and this fraction increases to 99% of high moisture solids and 55% of low moisture solids if waste can be shipped anywhere within the state. Biogas flaring practices at AD facilities can reduce potential energy production by 10 to 40%.

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