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No More Tears: Gills Onions Uses Onion Juice To Power Plant

Company converts 100% of daily onion waste into renewable energy.

Everyone knows just how powerful an onion is… just one can bring a strong person to tears.  But Gills Onions, one of the countries largest producer of fresh onions, is harnessing onion power to provide a more sustainable future.  The company now uses all of its waste to fuel its manufacturing processes.

Gills Onions’ has implemented an award-winning Waste-to-Energy project, called the Advanced Energy Recovery System (AERS). It has allowed the company to become the first food processing facility in the world to produce ultra-clean energy from its own waste – converting 100% of the daily onion waste (up to 300,000 lbs) into renewable energy.

The system went into operation in July 2009, and  eliminates the labor intensive and expensive process of hauling onion waste to farm fields, where it was worked into the soil.

The new system extracts the juice from the onion peels and treats it in a high-rate anaerobic reactor to produce methane-rich biogas, which powers two 300-kilowatt fuel cells. The resulting electricity is used to power the onion processing plant, saving an estimated $700,000 annually in electrical costs.

The company also gets additional savings from the elimination of $400,000 in annual costs associated with hauling onion waste to the farm fields. Gills has reduced the number of truck trips associated with removal of the onion waste by hundreds each year.  And last year announced that the company had received Climate Registered™ status by The Climate Registry, a non-profit greenhouse gas emissions registry.

Gills Onions has voluntarily measured, managed and reported its greenhouse gas emissions since 2008. The Climate Registered certification means that the company meets rigorous transparency, accuracy and comprehensiveness standards established by The Climate Registry.

There are both environmental and economic benefits to be gained from the company’s conversion to biogas. It sets a precedent for food processors of all kinds to transform food waste into valuable, renewable energy– proving once again just how powerful the onion really is.  Go Onions!

About Sebrina Zerkus Smith

Professional writer, foodie. Lupus survivor. Loves pugs, wine, days at the beach and good movies. Takes recycling seriously, but not much else. Sebrina Zerkus Smith is a Southern Gal that has been scratching the writer’s itch for nearly 30 years. Her career began in Washington, D.C., in 1987, fresh out of collage and full of ideals. While plying her trade by day on congressional reps and senators, at night she burned the candle writing features for local newspapers and national magazines. She quickly realized that her southern upbringing gave her a unique and humorous voice that resonated with her readers. Eventually, she moved to Los Angeles where she pursued her dream of becoming a novelist and screenwriter. She paid her bills by working as a freelance writer for major marketing projects from studios such as CBS, NBC and Disney. Realizing that the future of writing lay with the internet, she was bitten by the blogging bug back in the 90’s, back before it was even called “blogging.” Then it was still just writing and trying to make a living. Through those early blogging years, Sebrina found passion and purpose. Over the past 10 years she has written articles for clients such as LightCues.com, MatterMore.com, Greenopolis, MacAddict, Yahoo, CNN and more. Today, Sebrina writes about a variety of topics including the Southern Experience, sustainability, clean water, food, gardening, sleep and her obsession with pugs. She is a regular paid contributor to WildOats.com as well as other entities. She now lives in Houston with her husband Jeff and their pug Newton. She hopes one day to complete her opus, Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed.

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