Scaling up the amount of ethanol produced every year is no easy task. Aside from the huge amount of corn needed to produce a decent amount of fuel, the process also requires an almost constant flow of water. While many people are working to solve the issues, others are looking for alternative methods to produce the cleaner fuel. Interestingly enough, that alternative method may end up being watermelons.
According to information gathered by Discovery News, about 360,000 tons of watermelons, or about 25% of the nation's production, are allowed to lay in the field or in a compost pile and rot away to nothing. Researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture have been able to take this normally wasted biomass and produce fuel grade ethanol while reducing the amount of water needed in the process.
According to the research done, enough watermelons are wasted each year to process about 2.5 million gallons of ethanol. The fruit can be used to displace about 15% of the corn required in the synthesis of ethanol fuel and also introduce the nitrogen necessary for the reaction.
The Department of Agriculture is planning on continuing to research this new method and test the feasibility of large scale production.Science Daily