New Sustainable Project Will Turn Banana Peels Into Electricity

Mar 23, 2015

The site for the bio-gas plant is on Johnson Road in Charlotte.
Credit Lucy Perkins / WFAE

A new energy project in Charlotte will use food scraps to power 3,000 homes in the Charlotte area. A Nevada company called Bluesphere will convert organic waste into electricity. 

Think banana peels. That’s basically what organic waste is, along with other food we throw out. The bio-gas plant will take the leftovers we don’t use, and accelerate the fermentation process.

"What happens normally in six months we concentrate in 30 days," says Alex Massone, the CEO of Austep -- an Italian company behind the technology.

Here’s how it works. Food waste will be dumped into machines called tornadoes.They basically do what tornadoes do, spin around really fast.  

The tornados separate the heavy from the lighter stuff. The heavier stuff will then be put in a tank where it ferments and creates the bio-gas.

"The advantage is that instead of dumping the waste into a landfill it will start a natural fermentation and it will transform the waste into a product," says Massone.

Any organic material that remains will be used as compost and fertilizer.

The power plant site is north of uptown near Graham Street. Construction has not started, but Alex Massone expects it to be up and running by the end of the year.

Duke Energy will buy and distribute the electricity through its grid.