In case you missed it, Halloween was on Monday and that means thousands of pumpkins are going to be tossed into the garbage. If you’re in Oakland, Calif., though, you can turn your carved up Halloween pumpkin into renewable energy. This fascinating feat of green technology is made possible thanks to the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD).
EBMUD’s process was featured on the U.S. Department of Energy website. The utility district gathers the old pumpkins and other compostable food waste and deposits them into anaerobic digesters. This is where the fun begins.
“Inside these giant tanks, bacteria break down the food waste and release methane gas as a byproduct. EBMUD captures this gas and uses it to generate electricity in onsite generators. A ton of food waste provides about 367 m3 [cubic meters] of gas, and digesting 100 tons of food wastes five days a week can generate enough electricity to power 1,000 homes. Once the food waste has been digested, the remaining solids make an excellent natural fertilizer, so they can be used to get next year’s pumpkin crop started.” Source: DOE
That’s right, your old pumpkin can be used to generate electricity and the byproduct of the process can help fertilize next year’s pumpkin! Talk about an eco-friendly pumpkin lifecycle.