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. via GOOD