While browsing around the internet last week we came across this awesome article on the GOOD magazine site. The article immediately piqued our interest, as it shed some light on a topic we’ve thought about time and time again… WHAT in the world can we do with all the leftover fruit and veggie byproducts we are constantly confronted with during our Treasure Tuesdays beach cleanup sessions? There has to be some innovative way to recycle these scraps and put them to good use.
Well, it seems like we aren’t the only ones who have spent some time pondering this topic and it looks like a chemist in the U.K. may have found a solution to do just that! Take a few seconds to read the article and see how beneficial a little out of the box thinking can be to us all:
From GOOD.is “Biofuels are the green-seeming answer to the fossil fuel problem that environmentalists love to hate—and for good reason. While turning food crops like corn into ethanol appears to be a good idea, the conversion process can use up more energy than it’s worth. Not to mention that crops-for-fuel take up field space that would often be better used to grow food in a time of global shortages and escalating prices.
So why not use one of mother nature’s natural waste products—say, orange peels—as the raw material for biofuels and other petroleum-derived products? A chemist at the University of York in the United Kingdom has piloted a technique to do just that. Using high-powered microwaves, James Clark has figured out how to capture gas from fruit peels that can be converted into a variety of useful materials, from plastics to ethanol.
In response to Clark’s success in the lab, the university has announced a new initiative called the Orange Peel Exploitation Company, a nerd pun on a less-green organization with the same acronym. The new initiative is a research partnership between the University of York and universities in places with serious fruit industries: Spain and Brazil. According to Clark, Brazil’s orange juice industry currently leaves three million tons of orange peel a year to rot, a form of waste that is “economically and socially unacceptable as well as representing a major loss of resource.” OPEC will make it its mission to explore the possibilities of such waste, potentially turning orange peels into orange gold.“