During our usual net surfing of all things green, this popped into our radar and we just had to share it.
So a team of scientists is exploring an unusual source of electricity — damaged tomatoes that are unsuitable for sale at the grocery store. Their pilot project involves a biological-based fuel cell that uses tomato waste left over from harvests in Florida.
The researchers presented their work at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
“We have found that spoiled and damaged tomatoes left over from harvest can be a particularly powerful source of energy when used in a biological or microbial electrochemical cell,” says Namita Shrestha, who is working on the project. “The process also helps purify the tomato-contaminated solid waste and associated waste water.”
Shrestha is a graduate student in the lab of Venkataramana Gadhamshetty, Ph.D., P.E., at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. They are collaborating on this project with Alex Fogg, an undergraduate chemistry major at Princeton University. Other project collaborators include Daniel Franco, Joseph Wilder and Simeon Komisar, Ph.D., at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Tomatoes are a key crop in Florida, notes Gadhamshetty. He stresses that the project is important to the state because Florida generates 396,000 tons of tomato waste every year, but lacks a good treatment process.
Gadhamshetty began working on the topic as a professor at Florida Gulf Coast University.
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