USF tries to prove trash to cash isn't science fiction - WSPA.com

USF tries to prove trash to cash isn't science fiction

Posted: Updated:
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

The end of the first Back to the Future movie features Dr. Emmett Brown fueling his DeLorean Time Machine with trash. Three students and two faculty members at the University of South Florida don't see this as science fiction.

"The biodegradable portion of trash, which is a fairly large component, decays, and it releases methane and carbon dioxide," said Dr. Babu Joseph, a professor at USF.

"We have been researching methods to convert methane and other gases to liquid fuels like diesel and jet fuel," said Dr. Joseph. He and his team created a business called "Trash to Cash."

Methane is a greenhouse gas. Landfills must monitor the amount created by the decomposing trash. They are required to collect and dispose of it before it releases into the atmosphere.

Many landfills burn the methane, and others use the gas to produce energy using a generator. Dr. Joseph says that creating energy this way is more expensive than just buying electricity from the power grid.

Their innovation takes the unwanted methane gas from landfills and converts it to fuel for vehicles, a much-desired product.

Ph.D. student and member of the Trash to Cash team, Syed Gardezi says using their process a typical landfill can produce up to 7000 gallons of fuel per day. Their goal is to create a closed loop of fuel for landfills by using fuel made solely from landfill gases to power the garbage trucks.

"Every landfill takes 2000 gallons of diesel per day, for its truck and fleet. We have more than enough to cover that," said Gardezi.

USF has filed a patent on their innovation.  Basically, the team developed catalysts to promote the reaction from gas to liquid fuel.  Catalysts are tiny metallic particles that fill a reactor.  Once the methane gas enters the reactor at one end, it passes through the all the catalysts and is converted to liquid.

Dr. Joseph says the team is four to five years away from commercializing this process.  They still need money to build a full-scale reactor and a landfill to allow them to demonstrate their reaction.

They were recently awarded $100,000 in the 2012 MegaWatt Ventures Clean Energy Business Plan Competition, but more money is needed to make this innovation the real future.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Are background checks enough for Florida teachers?

    Are background checks enough for Florida teachers?

    Friday, April 18 2014 7:41 PM EDT2014-04-18 23:41:35 GMT

    In an effort to weed out potential perverts, Florida law requires fingerprinting and criminal background checks before school districts hire employees that will have any contact with children.

    In an effort to weed out potential perverts, Florida law requires fingerprinting and criminal background checks before school districts hire employees that will have any contact with children.


  • Pasco mix-up sends registration notices to wrong drivers

    Pasco mix-up sends registration notices to wrong drivers

    Friday, April 18 2014 6:02 PM EDT2014-04-18 22:02:51 GMT
    The vehicle registration information of hundreds of drivers in Pasco County were sent to the wrong person in a mix-up that led to the firing of a contractor.
    The vehicle registration information of hundreds of drivers in Pasco County were sent to the wrong person in a mix-up that led to the firing of a contractor.
  • Flushable wipes, not so flushable says Tampa's wastewater officials

    Flushable wipes, not so flushable says Tampa's wastewater officials

    Friday, April 18 2014 3:52 PM EDT2014-04-18 19:52:20 GMT
    Personal wipes, baby wipes, face wipes, flushable wipes. They are all designed to help us deal with delicate issues. But the wipes themselves are actually pretty sturdy and increasingly local water systems are finding they are creating costly problems.
    Personal wipes, baby wipes, face wipes, flushable wipes. They are all designed to help us deal with delicate issues. But the wipes themselves are actually pretty sturdy and increasingly local water systems are finding they are creating costly problems.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Bill could slow growth of Florida's craft beer industry

    Bill could slow growth of Florida's craft beer industry

    Saturday, April 19 2014 10:43 AM EDT2014-04-19 14:43:08 GMT
    Tampa Bay has several craft beer breweries in operation. Tampa Bay has several craft beer breweries in operation.
    Republican Senate President Don Gaetz is boasting in emails to beer lovers that he helped a craft brewery in his district get started. But now he's also supporting legislation that would hurt the same brewery.Gaetz wrote the legislation that set up an economic development grant program with BP oil spill recovery money.
    Republican Senate President Don Gaetz is boasting in emails to beer lovers that he helped a craft brewery in his district get started. But now he's also supporting legislation that would hurt the same brewery.Gaetz wrote the legislation that set up an economic development grant program with BP oil spill recovery money.
  • Restaurant Buzz: Free McDonald's breakfast, steakhouse closes, Tampa Ferg's

    Restaurant Buzz: Free McDonald's breakfast, steakhouse closes, Tampa Ferg's

    Saturday, April 19 2014 10:17 AM EDT2014-04-19 14:17:16 GMT
    A Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill is scheduled to open across the street from the TBT Forum in August. Facebook photoA Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill is scheduled to open across the street from the TBT Forum in August. Facebook photo
    No doubt, dining out is a popular pastime here in Tampa Bay. We're here to keep you informed. Here's this week's "dish" about what's happening at Tampa Bay restaurants.
    No doubt, dining out is a popular pastime here in Tampa Bay. We're here to keep you informed. Here's this week's "dish" about what's happening at Tampa Bay restaurants.
  • Captain of sunken SKorean ferry, 2 crew arrested

    Captain of sunken SKorean ferry, 2 crew arrested

    Saturday, April 19 2014 9:41 AM EDT2014-04-19 13:41:52 GMT
    The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea, leaving more than 300 missing or dead, was arrested early Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two crew members also were taken into...
    The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea, leaving more than 300 missing or dead, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two crew members also were taken into custody,...
Powered by WorldNow

250 International Dr.
Spartanburg, S.C. 29303

Telephone: 864.576.7777
Fax: 864.587.5430
Email: webmaster@wspa.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.