Grease and waste food from restaurants often ends up in landfills, but one company near Lancaster has figured out how to transform that garbage into energy.
, which has offices in Salunga and York, manages wastewater systems and cleans commercial grease tanks, sewer lines and the like. Each day it collects about 30,000 gallons of grease from food-processing facilities and restaurants.
While that grease is usually just thrown away, in 2008 Kline's installed a system that converts it into fuel comparable to heating oil. Brad Brubaker, the company's VP of sales and marketing, estimates that Kline's has produced 75,000 gallons of this reclaimed fuel since 2009. The company uses it for heat on its own property and sells what's left over.
Kline's recently installed a digester that can turn food waste, like baked goods and cheese, into electricity. The company already collects that waste and has converted some of it into heating fuel. But this digester will trap methane gas and turn it into electricity that can be sold back to the grid.
The machine can handle as much as 55,000 gallons per day, and certain waste food products are especially suited for it. "Anything that's high in sugar or high in protein is like steroids to a digester," Brubaker says. It's expected to be running by the end of April and will begin producing electricity a month later. The estimated yield will be enough to power more than 400 homes.
Next year Kline's plans to install another machine that will capture extra heat from the methane digester and use it to run a system that dries waste sewage into a fertilizer.
Source: Brad Brubaker, Kline's Services
Writer: Rebecca VanderMeulen