Today, as the University of California, Davis unveiled a trailblazing biodigester, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) praised Davis Aggies for their innovation and entrepreneurship. He also pointed out that public investment in research supports business development, job creation, and environmental protection

The university and Sacramento-based technology partner CleanWorld officially unveiled the UC Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester (READ) at the campus' former landfill. Here, the anaerobic digestion technology is being used inside large, white, oxygen-deprived tanks. Bacterial microbes in the tanks feast on campus and community food and yard waste, converting it into clean energy that feeds the campus electrical grid. Garamendi spoke at the groundbreaking, pledging to continue as a champion for the school and the region’s businesses.
 
Congressman Garamendi, a former UC Regent and the father of three UC Davis graduates, said, “On Earth Day, we recommit to protecting our air, water, and ecosystems for this generation and those to come. UC Davis is showing how we can do it. Through a crucial government investment, UC Davis researchers were able to develop this remarkable technology and partner with a private business to take this biodigester to the market. This is an excellent model for protecting our environment, developing renewable energy, and creating jobs.”
 
In June 2010, UC Davis received a $2.5 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for the biodigester from the U.S. Department of Energy under their Community Renewable Energy Deployment Program. CleanWorld financed the majority of the project, which totaled approximately $8.5 million, with private equity and a commercial loan with First Northern Bank.
 
Dr. Ruihong Zhang, Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at UC Davis, invented the technology by addressing a problem: How to turn as much organic waste as possible into as much renewable energy as possible.
 
This is the third commercial biodigester CleanWorld has opened using Zhang's technology within the past two years and is the nation's largest anaerobic biodigester on a college campus.
 
The system is designed to convert 50 tons of organic waste to 12,000 kWh of renewable electricity each day using state-of-the-art generators, diverting 20,000 tons of waste from local landfills each year.
 
The facility takes unique advantage of its location at the now closed UC Davis landfill by blending landfill gases – primarily methane – with biogas to create a total of 5.6 million kWh per year of clean electricity. It is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13,500 tons per year.
 

Standing in front of the BioDigester, from left to right: Congressman Garamendi, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, Professor Ruihong Zhang, CEO of CleanWorld Michele Wong, and Advisor to California Energy Commission Emilio Camacho (Davis BA ’08, JD ’11).