USF tries to prove trash to cash isn't science fiction - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

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>>

  • Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:28 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:28:18 GMT
    Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out. 
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out.  
  • Pricey processing issue at Tampa hair academy resolved

    Pricey processing issue at Tampa hair academy resolved

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:35 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:35:13 GMT
    Loretta Maloy says she always expected to pay for the courses she took those several weeks, but thought $10,000 in loans just wasn’t right.
    Loretta Maloy says she always expected to pay for the courses she took those several weeks, but thought $10,000 in loans just wasn’t right.
  • New Port Richey soldier says squatters won't leave his home

    New Port Richey soldier says squatters won't leave his home

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:58 AM EDT2014-04-23 12:58:50 GMT
    Soldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photoSoldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photo
     When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house. Now, they're fighting to get their house back.
    When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house. Now, they're fighting to get their house back.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:28 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:28:18 GMT
    Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out. 
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out.  
  • Bollywood Oscars kickoff with huge party

    Bollywood Oscars kickoff with huge party

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:23 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:23:09 GMT
    IIFA star Anil Kapoor is surrounded by fans at the IIFA Stomp event at Tampa's Curtis Hixon ParkIIFA star Anil Kapoor is surrounded by fans at the IIFA Stomp event at Tampa's Curtis Hixon Park
    The International Indian Film Academy kicked off the countdown to its version of the Oscars with a music festival in downtown Tampa.
    The International Indian Film Academy kicked off the countdown to its version of the Oscars with a music festival in downtown Tampa.
  • Fl Congressman Bill Young's widow says she won't support Jolly

    Fl Congressman Bill Young's widow says she won't support Jolly

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:06 PM EDT2014-04-24 01:06:14 GMT
    Photo courtesy of Beverly YoungPhoto courtesy of Beverly Young
    The widow of Congressman C.W. Bill Young says she no longer supports the man who campaigned as a “Bill Young Republican” and was elected to her husband’s seat in the House of Representatives. “No, I won’t support him,” Beverly Young said in an interview with News Channel 8.
    The widow of Congressman C.W. Bill Young says she no longer supports the man who campaigned as a “Bill Young Republican” and was elected to her husband’s seat in the House of Representatives. “No, I won’t support him,” Beverly Young said in an interview with News Channel 8.
  • Fire at Saw Mill in Bedford County is under investigation

    Fire at Saw Mill in Bedford County is under investigation

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:55 PM EDT2014-04-24 01:55:50 GMT
    A fire ata saw mill in Bedford County is under investigation. It happened thisafternoon around 5 at Central Virginia Pallet and Stake on Centerville Road.Bedford County's Fire Chief says there were no injuries, but the owner estimates the damages at about $75,000The chief says thefire is still burning, and it will likely burn for a few days, but it is contained.The cause of the fire is unknown, butit's believed to be accidental.
    A fire ata saw mill in Bedford County is under investigation. It happened thisafternoon around 5 at Central Virginia Pallet and Stake on Centerville Road.Bedford County's Fire Chief says there were no injuries, but the owner estimates the damages at about $75,000The chief says thefire is still burning, and it will likely burn for a few days, but it is contained.The cause of the fire is unknown, butit's believed to be accidental.
  • 29 Virginia High Schools on Personal Finance Top-100 List

    29 Virginia High Schools on Personal Finance Top-100 List

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 9:32 PM EDT2014-04-23 01:32:06 GMT
    29 schools in the Commonwealth, including many in our area, ranked the the nation's top 100 best high schools for personal finance instruction.
    29 schools in the Commonwealth, including many in our area, ranked the the nation's top 100 best high schools for personal finance instruction.
  • Franklin Co. Sheriff's Office investigating juvenile death

    Franklin Co. Sheriff's Office investigating juvenile death

    Franklin Co. Sheriff's Office investigating juvenile death

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 10:50 AM EDT2014-04-22 14:50:58 GMT
    Deputies were called to Double Oaks Lane in the Burnt Chimney community, where they found a seven-year-old boy with a gunshot wound.
    Deputies were called to Double Oaks Lane in the Burnt Chimney community, where they found a seven-year-old boy with a gunshot wound.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

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