Growcom, the Queensland based horticultural services company, has completed the major infrastructure required for its Banana Waste to Energy project which hopes to transform a laboratory study into a commercially viable energy producing plant.
The project is expected to confirm research findings made by the Division of Environmental Engineering at the University of Queensland in 2005 which demonstrated the technical feasibility of producing methane gas from banana waste.
Infrastructure which has been built on the banana plantation of Bush Holdings at Tully conveys the waste banana material to a purpose-built anaerobic digester where gas will be produced. Loading of the digester has now commenced, utilising the pre-existing chopper unit on the host farm. Mulched banana waste enters the digester automatically via the modified chopper.
Project Manager and Growcom Board Member Keith Noble explains:
An over-riding principle of the project has been to use locally available materials and expertise wherever possible. The system must also integrate with existing farm practices. If on-farm digesters are to have a commercial future they must add to farm efficiency and be simple to operate.
Once methane production commences (nominally two weeks from loading), gas output and quality data will be monitored to assess actual energy production. This will establish the degree of gas cleanup required and gas compression timing. The compressed methane will be stored in 100 litre cylinders.
A diesel ute is being converted to run on the banana gas, as will an on-site generator for electricity production. The figures derived from these practical applications will determine the project’s overall viability and potential for replication on other farms.
The project is being funded by the Sustainable Industries Division of the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).