Recently, a new technology to producing ethanol fuel from throwaway materials such as newspapers and orange peels has been developed by professor Henry Daniell at University of Central Florida, with funding from U.S Department of Agriculture.
Daniell’s approach is called, by scientists, a groundbreaking approach to produce ethanol fuel since it is less expensive and cleaner than current methods that are used to run vehicles on clean fuel. This approach is also aimed to reduce the world’s dependence on fossils fuel by relegating gasoline to a secondary fuel.
The concept if this technique is to use plant-derived cocktails to break down the waste products such as orange peels into sugar, then is fermented to ethanol. As well-known, corn starch is now used to produce ethanol. However, ethanol derived from corn is not clean since it causes more greenhouse gas emission than gasoline does. Oppositely, Daniell’s method creates ethanol in such a way that emitted greenhouse gas is much lower than both gasoline and electricity.
The nice thing about this new technique is that its application can be placed on non-food products such as straw, sugarcane, switchgrass, etc.
Someone may be skeptical that how many tons of waste products needed to produce a significant amount of ethanol? In his paper published this month in Plant Biotechnology Journal, Daniell pulled out an interesting example that only in Florida, the amount of discarded orange peels could be used to produce 200 million gallons of ethanol each year. This number is very impressive and thought to be a convincing answer to the question above. There are also other abundant sources of discarded fruit peels and other throwaway products that could be used without affecting the world’s food supplies or raising the food prices.
Even though Daniell’s findings are experimental and more research needs to be conducted to bring it from laboratory to market, this new technique is very promising on making a new way to cheap, clean fuel to power the world’s vehicles while keeping a pure and healthy environment for future generations.