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Waste Not, Want Not

Waste Not, Want Not

 Two scientists at Illinois Institute of Technology may have solved one of the biggest inefficiencies in aquaponic farming: the abundant use of energy that it requires.

Elena Timofeeva, a research professor in chemistry, and John Katsoudas, a senior research associate in physics, have developed a system that uses organic food waste—rather than electricity—to generate a mobile aquaponics farm.

“[Food waste] is introduced into the biodigester through an external chute, and then over the period of about 21 days, it’s converted into methane,” Katsoudas says. “We then pipe that methane into an electric generator and produce electricity and CO2. The electricity is what we use to power the aquaponics systems—i.e. the grow lights, heaters, pumps, air conditioners, control systems, life support for the fish, etc. The byproduct of generating electricity using methane is CO2.”

The team plans to have the full-scale prototype finished in the next 18 months.