Yorkshire Water hopes to use a mixture of rotting food and sewage sludge to produce electricity on a commercial scale.
The company is seeking funding to further its research after one of its experiments generated sufficient electricity to run a heating and lighting system.
Issy Caffoor of Yorkshire Water’s research and development unit said it was the first time food waste had been combined with sewage sludge to produce methane-rich gas which could in turn generate electricity.
‘The trial produced excellent results which we hope will be mirrored in the next stage of the project,’ she said. If further trials are successful, the water company plans to use the process to produce and sell the power.
The initial study was monitored by WS Atkins, while Waste Recycling Environmental worked with supermarket chain Asda to supply unwanted food to Yorkshire Water’s Knostrop site.
Vegetables, fruit and bakery products were mixed with sewage sludge. The combined rotting matter decomposed to produce the methane-rich ‘bio-gas’.
Not only does the process generate electricity and leave a sludge which can be marketed as fertiliser, it also cuts the amount of food waste sent to landfill sites.
Yorkshire Water hopes to secure funding from the Landfill Tax Credit scheme to support the next trial, which will cost £250,000 and be conducted at the company’s Marley works near Keighley.
Mark Shaylor Asda’s Environmental Manager said: ‘It gives us the opportunity to make savings on the cost of sending waste to landfill, costs that we can pass on to customers. This is an excellent way to make the best use of what would previously have just been thrown away.’