For years scientists have been exploring the use of biofuels to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Ethanol from corn is probably the most obvious example, but it’s been a less than perfect solution. The conversion process, it turns out, can use up more energy than it’s worth. And in a time of worldwide food shortages, using crops for biofuel has been increasingly under fire.
The newest thinking in the biofuel category focuses on using natural waste products such as orange peels as the raw material. Other than a bit of orange zest on occasion, no one’s eating orange peels after all.
As reported on the website Good.is, James Clark, a chemist at the University of York in the UK has piloted a project that uses high-powered microwaves to convert orange peels into power. The technology captures gas from fruit peels that can be converted into a variety of useful materials, from plastics to ethanol.
Clark’s success in the lab has led to a new initiative announced by the university called the Orange Peel Exploitation Company–an alternative OPEC, if you will.
This OPEC is a research partnership between the University of York and other universities in countries with substantial fruit industries such as Brazil and Spain. Brazil’s orange juice industry currently leaves three million tons of orange peel a year to rot, according to Clark.
OPEC’s mission will be to explore—or exploit—the possibilities of turning these peels into power.
Orange you glad they’re trying this? Orange you hoping they’re able to pull it off? We certainly are.
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