April 7, 2006
Researchers convert citrus waste to ethanol
Winter Haven, Florida – Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are developing a process to derive sugar from citrus peels to use as feedstock for ethanol production. In Florida alone, citrus processing yields about five million tons of wet waste per year, most of which is currently sold as low-value cattle feed. The process could yield up to 302 million litres of ethanol annually from Florida’s waste.
Work began in 1992, but was shelved due to the low cost of gasoline and the use of other oxygenates within gasoline. The project was revived in 2004 when an ARS chemist modified the process to substantially reduce the amount of enzyme required to convert the citrus waste to sugar.