Watermelons source of renewable energy research suggests

Watermelons could provide an unlikely source of renewable energy, say researchers. Juice from "reject" watermelons that go unsold can efficiently be fermented into ethanol biofuel, a study has shown.

Watermelons could provide an unlikely source of renewable energy, say researchers. Juice from "reject" watermelons that go unsold can efficiently be fermented into ethanol biofuel, a study has shown.

 

The fruit could generate fuel at the rate of 220 litres per hectare, or 2.5 acres, according to the findings. Dr Wayne Fish, from the US Department of Agriculture, said: "About 20% of each annual watermelon crop is left in the field because of surface blemishes or because they are misshapen.

 

"We've shown that the juice of these melons is a source of readily fermentable sugars, representing a heretofore untapped feedstock for ethanol biofuel production."

Watermelon juice could also be a useful source of the two health supplement "nutri-chemicals" lycopene and L-citrulline, said the researchers writing in the online journal Biotechnology for Biofuels.

 

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant while L-citrulline improves blood flow. During the 2007 growing season, around 360,000 tons of reject watermelons were lost as a source of revenue to US growers, the study found. Around half of the mass of a watermelon consisted of readily fermentable liquid, said the scientists.

 

The juice could also serve as a dilutent for concentrated biofuel sources such as molasses, which need watering down before fermentation.

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