New system uses wasted food to replace fossil fuels

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Researchers at Waterloo Engineering have developed new technology to convert wasted food into a clean substitute for fossil fuels.

The system engineers natural fermentation to yield a chemical called carboxylate, which can be used to produce fuel and chemicals for products including drugs and plastic packaging instead of those derived from petroleum.

“The amount of food we waste is staggering,” said Hyung-Sool Lee, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, and director of the Waterloo Environmental Biotechnology Lab. “That’s what motivated me to find a better way to utilize it to mitigate the damage caused by fossil fuels.”

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Hyung-Sool Lee in his lab at Waterloo Engineering.

Hyung-Sool Lee, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Waterloo, poses in his lab with a prototype of his system to produce an alternative to fossil fuels from food waste.