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For Immediate Release: October 23, 2006
Media Contact: Adam Gottlieb - 916-654-4989

M E D I A     A D V I S O R Y

New Biogas Plant Generates Energy From Organic Waste
Public Interest Energy Research Funds New Technology at UC Davis

WHAT: Kick-off ceremonies for a new state-of-the-art waste-to-energy plant at UC Davis, the Biogas Energy Project, which will turn tons of table scraps from Bay Area restaurants into clean, renewable energy. Ceremonial photo opportunities are scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

WHEN: October 24, 2006 - 10 a.m. Program; 10:30 Photo opportunities

WHERE: UC Davis Campus, South of Interstate 80 (see Directions)


Ruihong Zhang, UC Davis professor of biological and agricultural engineering
Dave Konwinski, CEO, Onsite Power Systems Inc., Davis
Dan Lungren, U.S. Representative, California 3rd Congressional District
Val Tiangco, Senior Technical Lead, California Energy Commission
Margo Reid Brown, Chair, California Integrated Waste Management Board

UC Davis scientists and students; officials from waste-management, food processing and energy firms nationwide; elected officials; and representatives of state agencies will be present at the event.


  • Power plant, with giant steel tanks, catwalks, generators
  • Shoveling of food scraps onto conveyor belt
  • Project leaders will throw oversized, red power switches to commence flow of electricity.
  • Two green 18-foot, dancing figures will quickly inflate and sway on catwalks above the project. (For added effect, the inflatable figures will remain hidden until the switch is thrown).
  • News photographers will have access to catwalks for overhead shots.

BACKGROUND: The goal of the Biogas Energy Project is to refine and demonstrate the commercial viability of new technology developed at UC Davis. Starting Tuesday, the project will turn tons of table scraps from Bay Area restaurants into clean, renewable energy.

Major research funding was provided by the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program. The PIER program supports energy research, development and demonstration projects that will help improve the quality of life in California by bringing environmentally safe, affordable and reliable energy services and products to the marketplace.

The Biogas Energy Project is the first large-scale test of a new technology developed in the past eight years by Ruihong Zhang, a UC Davis professor of biological and agricultural engineering. The technology, called an "anaerobic phased solids digester," has been licensed from the university and adapted for commercial use by Onsite Power Systems Inc.

The goal of this innovative public-private alliance is to divert organic matter such as food waste and yard clippings -- away from landfills and into the energy grid. Eight tons of leftovers weekly will be processed. The leftovers will come from premier restaurants including San Francisco's Slanted Door, Jardiniere, Scoma's, Boulevard and Zuni Cafe, and Oakland's Oliveto and Scott's Seafood. Each ton of broccoli spears, cantaloupe rinds and fish bones should produce enough energy on average to power and heat 10 California homes.

DIRECTIONS AND PARKING: Take I-80 to Davis. Exit at main UC Davis exit and travel south on Old Davis Road. Just past railroad tracks, turn left on first road, at signs for wastewater treatment plant and Center for Equine Health. Take first left into wastewater plant grounds. Follow signs to Biogas Energy Project, straight ahead.

CONTACT: Adam Gottlieb, Energy Commission (916) 654-4989 or Sylvia Wright, UC Davis (530) 752-7704.

Event Program (Acrobat PDF file, 2 pages, 1.9 megabytes)

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