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A Heriot-Watt start-up firm is developing technology that can turn food waste from restaurants and hospitals into electricity on-site.

IntelliDigest, an engineering spin-out from the University, has designed a prototype for a device that uses microbes to create biogas, which could be used to generate heat or power.

There is a need for people to get committed to recycling in terms of having a direct benefit from the process.

IntelliDigest founder Ifeyinwa Kanu

Currently, there are 208 anaerobic digestion plants in Britain, including ones run by Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, but this is the first on-site solution.

Ifeyinwa Kanu added: “There is a need for people to get committed to recycling in terms of having a direct benefit from the process.

“Most of the people in hospital don’t eat their food because they’re sick, and because it could be contaminated it can’t be used for other purposes.

“We not only help them recycle more efficiently, we also help them drive down their energy costs and boost their corporate social responsibility.”

Kanu, who launched the company out of her PhD research, said she is hoping to secure funding for the prototype in the next two months, with a view to commercialising it within the next year.

One of the main aims is to enable hospitals to recycle unavoidable food waste, with the company working in partnership with NHS Highland on the project. The firm hopes to branch out into other sectors in the future.

Robert Goodfellow, Heriot-Watt's Head of Enterprise added: “IntelliDigest are a prime example of a successful spin-out, formed on quality research and now going from strength to strength."

The Scottish Government has a drive to send zero food waste to landfill by 2020.