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Watermelons Are Green

It’s the fruit of the summer. Sweet, red, and juicy. And whether you prefer it seedless or not, it may soon be fueling your vehicle. Watermelon: the future of fuel? According to an American Institute of Physics article from July 2, 2009, this succulent fruit is being evaluated by researchers at the Agricultural Research Center as a potential alternative fuel. But just how will this tasty treat run the cars of America?

The magic ‘e’ word: ethanol. Two substances, lycopene and citrulline, can be extracted from watermelons and later fermented into ethanol, which can be converted into bio-fuel. Experts at the center estimate that a 20 pound melon can yield seven tenths of a pound of ethanol. Sounds like a pretty small amount. I’m getting anxious here. Will these summer delights be swept off store shelves and dumped into my gas tank? Will I be forced to resort to another melon?

Probably not. The center provides an interesting fact: 800 million pounds of melon that are harvested each year never make it to your tummy because they are blemished or not fit otherwise for sale. Whew! That’s a relief. But is it worth the time, effort, and money to ferment watermelon juice into fuel?

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this melon abuse. On the one hand, I’d rather have 800 million pounds of watermelon be put to use instead of decaying on the fields. It’s good to know that in an effort to ease our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil, research is being conducted on alternative methods. But we have not attacked the problem. We need to ease our use of fossil fuels and oil, as well as our dependence. While attempting to find alternative fuels is well worth the effort, more emphasis needs to be placed on actually telling people to use less fuel. The solution is pretty simple: Buying more fuel efficient cars, using public transportation, walking or biking to get around. In order to decrease our dependence, we need to decrease our use. Not only will this save our wallets (because we will be using less), it will cut Mother Nature some slack in terms of emissions.

So, although watermelon fuel sounds like it might be filling my gas tank, I’d prefer to walk to store and have it fill my belly. Unless, of course, it is rotten. Then off to the Buick it goes.


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