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Orange peels, newspapers may lead to cheaper, cleaner ethanol fuel
Date:2/18/2010

Scientists may have just made the breakthrough of a lifetime, turning discarded fruit peels and other throwaways into cheap, clean fuel to power the world's vehicles.

University of Central Florida professor Henry Daniell has developed a groundbreaking way to produce ethanol from waste products such as orange peels and newspapers. His approach is greener and less expensive than the current methods available to run vehicles on cleaner fuel and his goal is to relegate gasoline to a secondary fuel.

Daniell's breakthrough can be applied to several non-food products throughout the United States, including sugarcane, switchgrass and straw.

"This could be a turning point where vehicles could use this fuel as the norm for protecting our air and environment for future generations," he said.

Daniell's technique developed with U.S. Department of Agriculture funding -- uses plant-derived enzyme cocktails to break down orange peels and other waste materials into sugar, which is then fermented into ethanol.

Corn starch now is fermented and converted into ethanol. But ethanol derived from corn produces more greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline does. Ethanol created using Daniell's approach produces much lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline or electricity.

There's also an abundance of waste products that could be used without reducing the world's food supply or driving up food prices. In Florida alone, discarded orange peels could create about 200 million gallons of ethanol each year, Daniell said.

More research is needed before Daniell's findings, published this month in the highly regarded Plant Biotechnology Journal, can move from his laboratory to the market. But other scientists conducting research in biofuels describe the early results as promising.

"Dr. Henry Daniell's team's success in producing a combination of several cell wall degrading enzymes in plants using chloropla
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Contact: Chad Binette
cbinette@mail.ucf.edu
407-823-6312
University of Central Florida
Source:Eurekalert  

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