Gills Onions’ Advanced Energy Recovery System converts onion waste into electricity

5. Converting Onion Waste into Electricity Nearly 20 years ago, Gills Onions started to develop the concept of a waste- to-energy system, which would allow the farm to efficiently recycle onion byproduct at its plant in Oxnard rather than

transporting it to a local field. “As our company grew, the volume of waste coming out of the plant was getting larger and larger to the point where our ranch managers in the fields were getting overburdened,” said Steve Gill, owner of Gills Onions. “I went to

UC Davis and started to work with the ag engineering department up there on how to sustainability utilize this waste.” Gill and the UC Davis team developed a project that would grind up the waste from the onions, extract the juice, run it through the anaerobic digester, and take the resulting biomethane (renewable natural gas) to put it into hydrogen fuel cells, which is then converted over to the internal combustion engine to generate electricity. “Environmentally, we’ve reduced about 25,000 tons of CO 2 going into the atmosphere with this process. We generate our own power to reduce power in the plant. We’re at 99.3-percent zero waste at this facility here,” said Gill. Since becoming operational in 2009, the waste-to-energy system (called Advanced Energy Recovery System) has produced 25 gigawatt hours of electricity, or enough to power 3,740 California homes for a full year. Currently, the AERS is able to generate enough biogas to power a 200 kilowatt generator.

Steve Gill, owner-partner of Gills Onions, located in Oxnard, Calif.



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