Cry Me a Biofuel

red onion

Everyone knows that onions can produce tears. But do you know that they can also produce energy? That’s the word from Steve Gill of Gill Onions, who has been using onion waste to run the refrigerators and lights at his family’s processing plant in Oxnard, California.

Prior to converting onions to energy, the company either spread the onion waste as fertilizer over their fields throughout California or sold it as cattle feed. Both these options posed a hazard not only to the atmosphere but also the groundwater.

These days at Gills Onions, the fermented onion juice is converted to methane and burned in the two on-site fuels cells, saving the company around $1.4 million in electricity and disposal costs.

And this is only the beginning of Gill Onion’s sustainability aspirations. Their aim is to turn the plant into a zero-waste facility through actions such as recycling employees’ lunch leftovers and revamping packaging.

Image: Darwin Bell