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Biography

Prof. Irene M. C. Lo is currently a full professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and has been joining HKUST since 1992. Prof. Lo is an elected Academician of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (EASA). She is the first Hong Kong scholar inducted into the EASA. She is an elected Fellow of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (FHKIE), and elected Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (FASCE), She received her Ph.D. degree in Civil (Environmental) Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992. She is also Adjunct Professor of Tongji University, Tianjin University, Jilin University and Harbin Institute of Technology in China. She had been Visiting Professor of Technical University of Denmark and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Prof. Lo was the recipient of the 2004 ASCE James Croes Medal, the 2007 ASCE Samuel Arnold Greeley Award, the 2008 EWRI Best Practice-Oriented Paper Award, the 2009 ASCE Wesley W Horner Award, and the 2012 ASCE EWRI Best Practice-Oriented Paper Award. Prof. Lo has held 2 Patents, edited 7 technical books, and published over 260 SCI journal articles and conference papers with citation of 4500+ and H-index of 35. Her research areas include biomass waste treatment and management; remediation technologies for river sediment, contaminated soils and groundwater; magnetic nano- and microparticles for environmental pollution control; and pollutant migration in soils.

Abstract

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about 1.3 billion tonnes of food produced is lost or wasted each year. Meanwhile, food waste is a valuable resource with great potential for energy production. Among the available methods for food waste treatment, anaerobic digestion is a viable option for turning food waste into energy in the form of biogas. Nowadays, there has been increasing interest in using anaerobic digestion for food waste treatment because this renewable energy can replace the use of fossil fuels for energy production and thereby reduces greenhouse gas emissions and mitigates climate change. However, turning biogas into different forms of energy use can have different degrees of impact on climate change. Therefore, it is important to quantify the impact and identify the most favorable one. In this study, the options for turning food waste into various types of energy use, including electricity and heat, city gas for household use, and biogas fuel for vehicle use, are evaluated using life cycle assessment (LCA). This assessment is mainly based on the specific data in Hong Kong. The results show that biogas fuel as a petrol substitute for vehicle use has advantageous over other options in regard to climate change. It is estimated that converting one-third of food waste produced each day in Hong Kong to biogas fuel would reduce ~1.9% of greenhouse gas emissions in transport sector. The findings indicate the significance of turning biogas for vehicle fuel use for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions.