Power Your Car... With Watermelons?

It turns out that watermelons are an energy fruit. (Photo: momo [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)

With summer just around the corner, it won't be long before we can once again quench our thirst with a juicy slice of watermelon. But of the 400 billion pounds of watermelons grown each year, 800 million pounds are rejected because they are either blemished or deformed.

Now there is a use for all those rotting watermelons.

Science Daily reports that a 20 pound watermelon can yield a 1.5 pounds of sugar, enough to produce 7/10 of a pound of ethanol. And chemist Wayne Fish has also shown that ethanol can be extracted from the waste stream of watermelons used for nutraceuticals (like lycopene a powerful anti-oxident).

This is good news for the watermelon industry. Farmers gain an extra cash crop and the nutraceutical industry which extracts watermelon compounds, will have reduced waste water treatment expenses.

Agricultural Research Services (ARS) is perfecting a method for extracting watermelon ethanol and developing an intercropping method, whereby other ethanol crops like sweet sorghum could be rotated with the watermelon crop, providing a year-round source of ethanol.