Converting Orange Peels into Cellulosic Ethanol


Technology that enables ethanol to be derived from cellulosic material has citrus farmers in Florida excited that they may soon have a way to generate additional revenue:

Producing approximately 5 million tons of citrus peel waste annually, the Florida orange juice industry has the potential to provide up to 60 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol for Sunshine State residents…Although 60 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year would not even come close to satisfying U.S. fuel demand, this hasn’t stopped companies from seeing the economic and environmental benefits the technology would offer consumers on a regional scale.

The citrus waste, a pectin, cellulose and soluble sugar rich mixture of peel, segment membranes and seeds is available at no cost and in large volumes with potentially no transportation costs since companies like Florida-based Citrus Energy LLC, and newly incorporated Southeast Biofuels, plan to build biorefineries in the local vicinity or co-locate at the citrus processing facility itself.

Currently, citrus waste from orange juice processing companies is dried into citrus pulp pellets and fed to cattle with little or no return on investment. In addition, during the drying process toxins are released requiring citrus processing companies to install costly equipment to ensure that organic emissions do not escape into the atmosphere.

[RenewableEnergyAccess]

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