JAPAN: ORGANIC WASTE GENERATES ELECTRICAL ENERGY

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A company in Japan has unveiled the world's first system that produces electricity out of organic waste.

Japanese construction giant Kajima Corporation has devised a way to generate electrical energy using the gases emitted by decomposing organic waste product.

The company is hopeful that the new system could considerably lessen the country's heavy reliance on nuclear power plants

The announcement of a an eco-friendly source of power is timely.

Japan's concern over the safety of its nuclear power industry has grown due to the recent accident in Tokaimura which left dozens contaminated.

In 1995, Kajima commercialized a system that decomposes organic wastes into methane gas, carbon dioxide and water.

This time, the company has developed the system further: the new technology makes hydrogen from the methane gas and creates electricity by allowing the hydrogen to react with oxygen.

Any kind of organic waste, such as kitchen scraps can be re cycled as energy.

The waste is first treated and then goes into a 'bio-reactor' containing a micro-organism called "thermophile methane."

This thermophile methane system decomposes the organic waste into methane gas, carbon dioxide, and water.

The methane gas then goes into the gas tank which is connected to a machine that creates electricity by allowing the gas to react with oxygen.

The system produces approximately 580 kilowatts of electricity per hour with one ton of organic waste.

This is the amount of electricity consumed by an average household over two months in Japan.

The company is confident that its new re-cycling system could partially replace the energy produced at nuclear power plants.

SOUNDBITE: (Japanese)
"According to the statistics we have, in Japan, 20 (m) million tons of garbage come from kitchens per year through out Japan. If we make energy out of this 20 (m) million tons of waste through our system, we will be able to generate two (m) million kilowatts per hour. That is the power that one nuclear power plant creates. It is of course difficult to collect all the waste from all over Japan to one place. But, we could possibly build systems in several places in Japan. I believe this is not totally impossible."
SUPER CAPTION: Yoshitaka Togo, Chief Research Engineer, Bio-Environment Department, Kajima Corporation

Japan, like many other countries, is facing the problem of what to do with its garbage.

The garbage collected in central Tokyo metropolitan, for example, is first incinerated and then is brought to this - already overloaded - 480 hectare site facing Tokyo bay.

The re-cycling system will soon be on the market, and its developers say they are looking forward to start tackling Tokyo's mountains of garbage next year


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