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Thursday, 15 September 2011

A French melon-powered power plant

Do you like melons? Tasty aren't they?

Sweet when ripe, and refreshing.

North American "cantaloupes" (from Wikipedia, USDA photo by Scott Bauer. Image Number K7355-11.)

You've got to be careful about storing them though because apparently their pungent pong can permeate other food and you've probably also noticed how their remains can stink out a kitchen when left in the bin.

Something to do with the amount of methane melons produce when they decompose - just like all fruit really.

The company Boyer S.A Philibon in the southwestern département of Tarn et Garonne knows all about that.

It's one of France's biggest producers and packers of melons and its processing station is in the town of Moissac.

But Boyer S.A also has a huge waste problem in the shape of rotten melons - 1,800 tonnes of them annually.

So earlier this year it called in the experts, turning to the Belgian-based company GreenWatt, a specialist in building, designing and maintaining biogas plants and the fruits (ouch) of the two companies collaboration will be unveiled on Friday.

That's when France's first biogas plant or anaerobic digester will open.

And it'll apparently be able to produce enough hot water for the whole of the Boyer S.A site as well as the equivalent of electricity for 150 homes which it'll sell back to the country's largest utility company Électricité de France.

Not bad going for a load of mouldy fruit, and very green to boot.

So forget nuclear, coal, hydro-electric, thermal, wind and solar power.

The future is melon - well at least as far as Boyer S.A is concerned.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

How does it work in winter when there are no melons about? Should one import them from Australia?

France Today said...

It apparently works using all rotten or rotting fruit. As the company mainly packages melons (yes both home-grown and imported) that'll be the mainstay of the digester. But there are other fruits around - plenty of them.

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