De-centralised urban biorefinery


A lab to turn organic waste into income

New York City produces almost four million tonnes of waste every year, almost a third of which is food. Over the past few years, the Kartik Chandran Laboratories at Columbia University have been trialling ways to turn food waste into high-value end products, resulting in a decentralised urban biorefinery. Working with high-concentration feedstock (products undiluted by water), the biorefinery converts the organic carbon in the feedstock into products such as biodiesel, lipids and bioplastics. Anaerobic fermentation is used to produce aqueous chemical monomers as opposed to gaseous biogas, meaning that the end product can be further converted into a wide spectrum of household chemicals and fuels, creating a product with an even higher economic and energy value.

Minxi Jiang

  • Minxi Jiang
    Columbia University

    Dr. Kartik Chandran's Lab: Dr. Kartik Chandran is a global leader in sustainable wastewater treatment and engineered resource recovery. He received his B.E. in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (formerly the University of Roorkee) in 1995 and his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1999. He received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2015 and was named a Fellow of the Water Environment Federation in 2013. Chandran’s lab is focusing on enabling through understanding and harnessing the biochemical potential and metabolism of microbial communities and developing appropriate technologies towards addressing global environmental and societal needs. Minxi Jiang: Ph.D. student in Dr. Kartik Chandran’s lab. Minxi received her B.E. in Renewable Energy Science & Technology from Zhejiang University, China in 2016, and finished her Master degree in Environmental Engineering from the Columbia University in 2017. Her research focus now is on urban metabolism, which tailors the traditional biogas production process to be more economics and locally appropriate for every household use.more

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