Hundreds of thousands of tons of watermelons are tossed every year because they aren’t good enough for market. A new study finds that the juice from these watermelons could easily be used to create the biofuel ethanol and other helpful products.
According to a new study to be published in the journal Biotechnology for Biofuels, 20% of the watermelon crop doesn’t go to market every year due to imperfections, bad spots, or weird shapes. These watermelons are left in the field and then plowed right back into the ground. According to the authors of the study (Benny Bruton and Vincent Russo from the USDA-ARS, South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, and Wayne Fish), these watermelons could be used to produce the biofuel ethanol.
The watermelon juice can be fermented and used directly or it can be used as a “diluent, supplemental feedstock, and nitrogen supplement” with other biofuel crops. If it is used as a supplement to other crops, it could first be used in nutraceutical production and serve an economic and health purpose in that capacity as well. Watermelons could be used to produce the nutraceuticals lycopene (found to be important to prostrate health) and L-arginine (an amino acid that is critical for the production of nitric oxide). After being used to produce these, the waste juice can be used for ethanol production.
Hundreds of thousands of tons of watermelons are lost every year. They are grown and then left in the ground because of superficial imperfections. The authors of this new study show that they could be very useful as a renewable energy source. “The results of this investigation indicate that watermelon juice as a source of readily fermentable sugars represents a heretofore untapped feedstock for ethanol biofuel production. The 8.4 t/ha of unmarketable watermelons left in the field at harvest would produce about 220 L/ha of ethanol for on-farm use or as an additional revenue stream for the grower.”
Fuel your next car with watermelon juice.
Image credit 1: Scott Butner via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image credit 2: rawallison via flickr under a Creative Commons license
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