By Stephen Markley on May 22, 2009
A group called Agricultural Research Service in Oklahoma has shown that your favorite summertime fruit may be able to serve another purpose: Fueling your car. ARS has proved that simple sugars in watermelon juice can be made into ethanol. Specifically, 20 pounds of watermelon would yield about 7/10 of a pound of ethanol.
For those concerned about the issues of turning food into fuel, we’re not talking about the watermelons at your picnic, but rather the 800 million pounds of melons with deformities or physical blemishes that make them unsuitable to harvest and sell. This portion — about 20% of the total U.S. watermelon crop — is simply plowed over after the harvest.
The Department of Agriculture now wants to look at ways to optimize the energy potential of waste watermelons through chemical and enzyme treatments. It’s all part of the push not only to wean the U.S. off foreign oil, but to diversify the type of crops used in biofuels.