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Watermelon Juice Makes Great Biofuel

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the just-can't-buy-a-decent-watermelon dept.

Power 160

Mike writes "Watermelons are more than just a tasty summer snack — researchers at the USDA have determined that the fruit constitutes a promising and economically viable source of biofuel. It turns out that the relatively high concentration of directly fermentable sugars in watermelon juice can be easily converted into ethanol. Rather than grow fields of the fruit for the purpose, the report suggests that farmers capitalize on the 20% of each annual watermelon crop that is left in the field because of surface blemishes or because they are misshapen."

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High school cheer.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29222435)

I guess this could lead to my Alma Mater returning to its old cheer:
Barbecue! Watermelon! Cadillac car!
We're not as dumb as you think we is!

The more important question (4, Insightful)

Misanthrope (49269) | about 5 years ago | (#29222451)

As a homebrewer, does this actually taste decent?

Re:The more important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29222513)

If fellow /. knows of a great beer brewed with watermelons please for the love of Linux inform us.

Re:The more important question (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29225173)

Don't know about beer, but this one always works...
(1) Cut quarter sized hole in top of watermelon.
(2) Remove cap from the cheapest 1.75L bottle of vodka you can find and place bottle in hole upside-down.
(3) Wait 1 day, then flip and let watermelon flavored vodka pour back into bottle.
(4) Drink vodka. Eat watermelon.
(5) Profit !

Re:The more important question (4, Informative)

Rei (128717) | about 5 years ago | (#29222647)

Winemaking: Watermelon Wines [] .

Re:The more important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29223007)

I don't know about watermelon wine, but damn, I think that background was trying to give me an aneurysm.

Re:The more important question (1)

stokessd (89903) | about 5 years ago | (#29223133)

Tom T Hall would be proud...

Re:The more important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29223429)

Tom T Hall would be proud..

Indeed []

Re:The more important question (3, Funny)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | about 5 years ago | (#29222693)

Gotta love how most anything that makes a great alternative fuel also makes a dang good alcohol. And they say drinking and driving don't mix...

Re:The more important question (1)

Rei (128717) | about 5 years ago | (#29222957)

Like this? [] :)

Mal: "Now we're favored guests, treated to the finest in beverages that make you blind."

Re:The more important question (1)

madsenj37 (612413) | about 5 years ago | (#29223341)

My buddy brewed some watermelon beer a few months back and it tasted good. I do not know the recipe, but there are some good ones around. He usually gets his recipes from user submitted sites.

Re:The more important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29223783)

Everytime I get hopped up on watermelon, I start believing I am Crispin Glover and go on a manic church/elevator urination rage.

Watermelon wine tastes TERRIBLE! (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 5 years ago | (#29224819)

I can attest first hand. I've made wine out of many odd things and watermelon is by far the worst. Just don't. It tastes bad, it looks bad, it smells bad.

If you're looking for an ambitious but possibly tasty wine making fruit try pomegranate instead but really if you just want something that will taste good use welch's 100% grape juice or cran/grape combo.

That is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29222453)

tasty fuel

Duh (2, Insightful)

EkriirkE (1075937) | about 5 years ago | (#29222509)

Any glucose/sugar product can be distilled this way.
Next up: Candy Canes make Great Biofuel

I missed the frosty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29222551)

Even a diabetics piss?

Re:Duh (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#29222937)

I don't think its the fact that they can be turned into biofuel but the fact that we are pretty much just throwing away 20% of potential crops that can be used for it, so we wouldn't need to use new fields or change crops. On the other hand, pretty much all the corn grown for ethanol could be used for human consumption (yeah, you might need a different type of corn).

Re:Duh (3, Interesting)

mejogid (1575619) | about 5 years ago | (#29224591)

Ploughing waste back into the land or leaving it to decompose is hardly wasting anything - it's a natural fertiliser and reduces the need for less sustainable artificial fertilizers. Creating artificial nitrate fertilizers often involves using huge amounts of fossil fuels to extract nitrogen from the atmosphere, and many other minerals are mined unsustainably and in a highly environmentally destructive manner.

Most corn is grown as livestock feed (Re:Duh) (2, Insightful)

bitemykarma (1515895) | about 5 years ago | (#29225151)

The United States is, by far, the largest producer of corn in the world. Corn is grown on over 400,000 U.S. farms. In 2000, the U.S. produced almost ten billion bushels of the world's total 23 billion bushel crop. Corn grown for grain accounts for almost one quarter of the harvested crop acres in this country. Corn grown for silage accounts for about two percent of the total harvested cropland or about 6 million acres. The amount of land dedicated to corn silage production varies based on growing conditions. In years that produce weather unfavorable to high corn grain yields, corn can be "salvaged" by harvesting the entire plant as silage. According to the National Corn Growers Association, about eighty percent of all corn grown in the U.S. is consumed by domestic and overseas livestock, poultry, and fish production. The crop is fed as ground grain, silage, high-moisture, and high-oil corn. About 12% of the U.S. corn crop ends up in foods that are either consumed directly (e.g. corn chips) or indirectly (e.g. high fructose corn syrup). It also has a wide array of industrial uses including ethanol, a popular oxygenate in cleaner burning auto fuels. []

Re:Duh (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | about 5 years ago | (#29223717)

Candy canes? I would think that Sucrose would be a poor source of bio-fuel. The fact that it's a complex sugar and all of the energy already expended to extract it means that it would require a lot of energy input in comparison with the raw simple sugar fructose.

Re:Duh (1)

Joebert (946227) | about 5 years ago | (#29225115)

Next up: Candy Canes make Great Biofuel

How do you think Santa is able to give out so much coal every year ?

do the watermelong crawl (2, Informative)

FudRucker (866063) | about 5 years ago | (#29222515)

Re:do the watermelong crawl (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29222579)

Panties Stink!
They really, really stink!
Sometimes they're red, sometimes they're green,
Sometimes they're white or black or pink
Sometimes they're satin, sometimes they're lace
Sometimes they're cotton and soak up stains
But at the end of the day, it really makes you think
Wooooooo-wheeeee! Panties stink!

Sometimes they're on the bathroom floor
Your girlfriend- what a whore!
Sometimes they're warm and wet and raw
From beneath the skirt of your mother-in-law
Brownish stains from daily wear
A gusset full of pubic hair
Just make sure your nose is ready
For the tang of a sweat-soaked wedgie
In your hand a pair of drawers
With a funky feminine discharge
Give your nose a rest, fix yourself a drink
cause wooooooo-wheeeeeee! panties stink!

As long as we don't claim it to be the solution... (5, Insightful)

gapagos (1264716) | about 5 years ago | (#29222525)

As long as we don't claim Watermelon Fuel to be the solution, then I'm happy.

Corn-based "Ethanol" actually produces more pollution through corn crops than conventional oil.
Yet we were stuck with mellon heads (pun intended) claiming because it was from plants, it was "green" fuel.

I see FTA that they only wish to use the 20% watermellon leftovers for fuel, which is good if the conversion to oil doesn't pollute more than a conventional oil refinery, but it should end it there.

No watermellon-to-oil crop fields please.

Re:As long as we don't claim it to be the solution (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#29222619)

it is green in that the carbon is reabsorbed with the next crop.
Opposed to releasing carbon that's been underground for millions of years.

Of course, there isn't enough crop land for these kinds of bio-fuels to be successful.

Re:As long as we don't claim it to be the solution (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#29222641)

Near as I could tell, the only people who claimed that corn ethanol was actually a good idea were corn growers and any politicians who needed votes out in corn country.(and anybody involved with whiskey, of course; but they aren't wrong)

Re:As long as we don't claim it to be the solution (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 years ago | (#29223873)

Exactly. Iowa's early primary ensures that any canidate trying to raise more money has to take the pledge to support ethanol as a biofuel. If they point out how wastefull and pointless it's been, they'll have a weak showing there, and their campaign contributions will take a hit. Plus no congressman with eyes on the presidency would be willing to vote against corn for the same reasons.

Ethanol subsidies have been a huge waste, the money is all going to ADM [] , which is the last company we should be giving it to [] .

That wiki page also has some interesting stats on the taxes. "every $1 of profits earned by its ethanol operation costs taxpayers $30." And we're STILL dependant on oil. It's not even that they take corporate welfare, I'd be mad enough just based off how lousy an investment that is.

Re:As long as we don't claim it to be the solution (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 5 years ago | (#29222779)

It WAS green, at one time! ;)

Re:As long as we don't claim it to be the solution (0, Offtopic)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 5 years ago | (#29223461)

Corn-based "Ethanol" actually produces more pollution through corn crops than conventional oil.

No, it doesn't [] . Corn ethanol is a lousy choice for biofuels, influenced more by politics than science, but even it is energy-positive -- you get a reduction in CO2 pollution from it.

Re:As long as we don't claim it to be the solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29223561)

Corn-based "Ethanol" actually produces more pollution through corn crops than conventional oil.

No, it doesn't [] . Corn ethanol is a lousy choice for biofuels, influenced more by politics than science, but even it is energy-positive -- you get a reduction in CO2 pollution from it.

You are disagreeing with a different statement than the one posted.

The original statement was that corn-based ethanol produces more pollution than oil.

Your (unsubstantiated and unreferenced) reply was that it produces less "CO2 pollution".

There is more to pollution than just CO2.

Re:As long as we don't claim it to be the solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29223837)

And they don't take into account the extra CO2 produced to move Ethanol around, instead of not being made at all. You know, all those extra tanker trucks burn owls for fuel to take ethanol from it's refiner to the gas refinery to be mixed. And the fact that Ethanol is not efficient in most cars, requiring more fuel to be burned, so you actually need to burn MORE "clean" fuel than before, which includes burning MORE "dirty" fuel in the processes.

And the fact that, by burning more fuel, you will require said tanker trucks to be driven more to meet the extra demand, stop at gas stations more, using pumps, that take energy.... the "trickle down" effect is very small in many cases but multiplied by millions creates noticeably more pollution. Not even counting all the extra factories built that all pollute more than not having them at all and running the current refiners a little more as each of those factories have electricity use for things like lights, employee vending machines, officer computers, etc. All stuff that would not have been needed if ethanol was not mandated.

Yes, corn ethanol is MUCH worse than without it. I didn't even get into the "Unintended consequences" like rising food prices, etc.

Re:As long as we don't claim it to be the solution (1)

martas (1439879) | about 5 years ago | (#29223605)

forget about that! doesn't anyone here have a problem with using racist fuel?

Kickapoo Juice (3, Interesting)

mindbrane (1548037) | about 5 years ago | (#29222527)

I worked for a couple of months on a farm run on manual labour. Dray horses were used when more than a strong back was needed. The owner of the farm made what he called his Kickapoo Juice from the watermelons he grew in a dirt patch near his house. It was a low alcohol content, mild sweet, hot summer's day drink. I high recommend watermelon as a base for biofuel. :)

Re:Kickapoo Juice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29222801)

> I high recommend watermelon
> I high

Are you sure there were no .... residual effects ... ?

RUM (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29222545)

All the best Rum comes from watermelon.

Tractors! (2, Interesting)

elsJake (1129889) | about 5 years ago | (#29222567)

Someone should design a decent bio reactor and distilling apparatus. Farmers would appreciate the free fuel , even if the industry does not adopt watermelon juice powdered cars , tractors have less sophisticated engines that could probably run on mostly alcohol without much damage. I some farmers down here ran their tractors on sunflower oil because that's what they were growing in the fields.

Re:Tractors! (1)

confused one (671304) | about 5 years ago | (#29224803)

ummm, most modern tractors (last I looked) were diesel. sunflower oil, yes. Ethanol, NO.

Re:Tractors! (1)

smoker2 (750216) | about 5 years ago | (#29225229)

You have to use methanol [] in the biodiesel production process. You need about 40 litres per 200 litres of fuel produced. You can produce either methanol or ethanol from seed crops, vegetable matter etc.

No wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29222569)

I guess this is why I always feel pumped up after ingesting them!

"Your car's fuel source is so ugly" (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 5 years ago | (#29222583)

Rather than grow fields of the fruit for the purpose, the report suggests that farmers capitalize on the 20% of each annual watermelon crop that is left in the field because of surface blemishes or because they are misshapen." [emphasis added]

Imagine every other car sporting a "Your car's fuel source is so ugly..." bumper stickers.

Wasted fruit? (5, Insightful)

Odo (109839) | about 5 years ago | (#29222585)

The real news is that 20% of the watermelon crop is currently thrown out due to cosmetic issues. I don't understand why shape and surface issues would disqualify the fruit from use in processed foods. Such as watermelon juice, fruit salads, sweeteners, etc. If true (and the article did not provide citations, this represents a stunning waste.

Re:Wasted fruit? (2, Interesting)

hesiod (111176) | about 5 years ago | (#29222753)

That happens all the time with various fruits and vegetables. It's because most people want to buy nice, round watermelons, and not one that looks like it has tumors, despite the fact that they are just as good. The markets know this, so the farmers sell the best product to the markets to keep them coming back. The rest becomes personal use, gifts, and possibly fertilizer for the next crop.

Re:Wasted fruit? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 5 years ago | (#29223039)

He specifically referred to using the cosmetically-inferior items in processed foods, where its appearance isn't relevant. (Figuring out why cosmetic issues are relevant when the consumer is buying the item directly isn't tough to figure out.) Provided the number of ugly fruit is less than the number of fruit used to make processed foods, this would seem to be the most efficient way to use the fruit.

At a farmer's market, you can often buy the less visually-pleasing fruit as "seconds" at a discounted price.

Re:Wasted fruit? (2, Funny)

Takehiko (20798) | about 5 years ago | (#29222827)

When was the last time you saw a bottle of watermelon juice at the store?

Re:Wasted fruit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29222959)

I was wondering this a while ago. Why isn't it available? It tastes good, and I would drink it over apple juice or orange juice.

Re:Wasted fruit? (1)

xaxa (988988) | about 5 years ago | (#29223177)

I was sure I'd seen something in Tesco, so I had a look online:

"Bacardi Breezer Watermelon 70cl []
Produce of United Kingdom
4% Alcohol
A refreshing and delicious fruit flavoured alcoholic drink. Bacardi Breezer is fruity, delicious and incredibly refreshing. Available in either 4 packs or as a 70cl to share, there is a flavour for every occasion."

And currently on offer, two bottles for £5.

They don't have a juice though. A watermelon is £3.50, or £4 for a "giant" one.

Re:Wasted fruit? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#29222993)

Because watermelons aren't used in many processed foods. I've never seen canned watermelons, watermelon juice in any major store, etc.

Re:Wasted fruit? (3, Interesting)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 5 years ago | (#29225057)

Pickled watermelons are quite popular in Russia

Re:Wasted fruit? (1)

megamerican (1073936) | about 5 years ago | (#29223175)

Are they really "wasted"? Couldn't they be used for compost, animal feed, seeds, etc?

Easy... (5, Insightful)

denzacar (181829) | about 5 years ago | (#29223465)

Have you ever held a fully grown watermelon?
How about picked and loaded a truckfull of it, taken it to the market and then be told that you should either return a part of it cause they are bellow the buy-off quality or that you will be paid less for those watermelons, again on account of lower quality?

It is WAY cheaper to do quality control before PICKING, and just grow more to cover for the statistics.

Re:Easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29223833)

Have you ever held a fully grown watermelon?

I don't think *anyone* on slashdot has.

Re:Easy... (2, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | about 5 years ago | (#29224769)

Well, yeah, the buyer doesn't want to sort the things themselves, that's obvious. The parent is asking where the B-grade buyers are, given there is such a large amount of left over fruit. There are lots of crops that are sold in different quality lots.

Re:Wasted fruit? (5, Informative)

Useful Wheat (1488675) | about 5 years ago | (#29223655)

My family owns and operates a peach orchard in Colorado. I've helped with harvesting the trees and pruning the crop, and I'm reasonably familiar with the entire process. Any kind of surface defect or imperfection results in the fruit being thrown on the ground, or discarded. Our farm is fairly small, and only the truly massive farms can really make money selling fruit at less than grade A standards, because the prices are simply awful. Its just not worth the fuel to ship it at that point.

Most of your grade "B" fruit and veggies comes from grade "A" fruit that sat around too long, and was sold at the lower price rather than thrown out.

Re:Wasted fruit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29224405)

The U.S. population is so materialistic, food that is perfectly edible but has parts with physical characteristics unpleasing to the eyes that are mostly likely not consumable, is considered 'bad'.

Yes, its stupid. Yes, we should be called out on it.

I'm considering growing my own garden, however I have 1 caveat: it must be computer controlled! :p

Just plow then into the ground (0, Offtopic)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#29222593)

to be used with the next crop.

Converting food land to bio-fuels is a horrible waste of time and money.
There isn't enough land to come close to demand.

State laying industrial solar power in non farming area.
Do it fast, get it done. we can power the nation from that.

Re:Just plow then into the ground (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 5 years ago | (#29222965)

I agree. We could build solar power in the southwest, and nuclear plants in other areas where land use or weather is an issue and completely replace all our use of fossil fuels. Except that grid power really isn't a replacement for oil used in mobile vehicles.

To power mobile energy use we would need a better way to transfer grid power to vehicles. For ocean going vessels, the nuclear plants used by the military could be adapted for civilian use. Trains could be grid bound relatively easily. Cars can be battery powered for short distances, but would be only be effective with current technology if they could be charged from the grid while moving. We really don't have a way to replace fossil/bio fuel for aircraft.

Re:Just plow then into the ground (2, Insightful)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | about 5 years ago | (#29223223)

Good cropland is scarce enough as it is. Urban areas are constantly expanding and turning cropland into cityscape. It doesn't make much sense to hasten this trend by effectively converting space for growing food into space for fueling our vehicles.

I swear, the only reason we continue to see these ridiculous schemes is because the fuel companies don't want to see everything go electric. It won't be long before battery technology catches up and allows us to drive a reasonable distance on a charge. (Or we could just take advantage of the various swappable battery technologies that have already been developed for cars.)

Re:Just plow then into the ground (1)

KraftDinner (1273626) | about 5 years ago | (#29223237)

No love for safe and reliable nuclear energy?

Actaully, we can not (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 5 years ago | (#29223311)

Look, numerous studies have been done and they show over and over that Solar can NOT provide everything. Nor, can wind and solar.

A serious question to you. I am a backer of AE, but I look at the simple fact that even if we built all the wind as fast we could AND all the solar PV that we could, it would still take us over a decade to make a real dent. So, it is PLAINLY OBVIOUS that this can NOT be the only solution. Yet, ppl like yourself REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE that. Why? Seriously, why? Also, Solar PV is THE MOST EXPENSIVE solution that we can do at this time. In fact, it will remain that way for no less than 5 years, and more likely for another decade. So, why are you pushing this?

Why not push Solar Thermal, Geo-thermal, and more nukes? Solar Thermal AND geo-thermal are all capable of generating electricity at a price equal or lower than Natural Gas TODAY. And both are about to go below Coal prices. Yet, ppl like yourself do not push it.

In addition, if you are concerned about CO2 and/or oil imports, then you HAVE to back Nukes as well as fast development of Algae for bio-fuels. The reason for Algae is that it allows us to replace oil for the majority of its use. And there are PLENTY of places that oil is required. For starters, Aviation. But, why do ppl like you oppose all these things and just push the WORST alternative. In fact, at this moment, the IMPOSSIBLE address. Why not accept that we need far more than s

Re:Actaully, we can not (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 5 years ago | (#29223405)

He said solar, he didn't specify PV vs thermal. I would err on the side of sanity and assume he intended solar thermal for mass energy production.

Re:Actaully, we can not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29223759)

your comment as to 10 years to make a dent is actually quite optimistic, You are not factoring population growth alas energy requirement will be on the up.

Re:Just plow then into the ground (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | about 5 years ago | (#29223373)

We don't have the power infrastructure to support moving that power around. You're talking about a mult-trillion dollar upgrade to our infrastructure for that to be viable. It's the exact reason that "electric cars" are currently not even a remotely realistic solution to the oil problem.

Re:Just plow then into the ground (1)

FCAdcock (531678) | about 5 years ago | (#29223625)

Multi-Tillion is easy. It sounds like a troll, but it's a good idea.

Put off Obamacare for the next decade or three. Take that money and throw at the power grid/AE sources. When that is up and running we'll be saving enough money on foreign oil and power bills that we can afford health care.

No to fruit, yes to nuclear! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29222655)

Another site... []

From another article:
"Retailers rejects 360,000 tons of âoesubstandardâ fruit annually in America alone they could be used as an economical way to make fuel."

How much, in terms of fuel and resources, does it take to produce these reject, substandard fruits?

"The waste from US growers could produce nearly two million gallons (nine million litres) of biofuel per year."

We use, what, 70 billion gallons per year of motor gasoline?

"Dr Wayne Fish, who led the team, found that 50 per cent of the fruit was fermentable into ethanol which could provide valuable fuel."

What percentage of nuclear material can be used to provide valuable fuel? I'm sure the number is quite high. And it's just sitting there. That's what it's there for! It wants us to use it! We don't have to use energy to make another product, only to use more energy to make another product, only to convert the negligible amounts of waste into a fuel product!

"The study, published in the journal Biotechnology for Biofuels, discovered that watermelons could produce around 20 gallons of fuel per acre from fruit that otherwise would go to waste."

How many gallons of fuel could be saved by upgrading the efficiency of farmland use?

Watermelons are fresh, delicious fruit. They're for eating, not for fueling your vehicles.

Alcohol fuel is unsuitable for present engine tech (0)

erroneus (253617) | about 5 years ago | (#29222671)

Why are people persisting in this line of research without addressing the problem of engine destruction? The Gasahol we are currently burning is shortening the life span of all our gasoline engines due to the properties of alcohol and how it reacts with the materials in the fuel and exhaust systems. Either we figure out a better, more compatible engine or we figure out how to counter the effects that alcohol has on our engines. But this current alcohol research is rather detrimental to our engines as we consumers are literally helpless without options to choose fuel without alcohol in it. (Texas was trying to have itself exempted from that policy but to no avail...damnit)

Re:Alcohol fuel is unsuitable for present engine t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29222847)

Look on the bright side, you can always secede.

America needs a good buffer to quell illegal immigration from Mexico; just don't try sneaking your Texan ass back into the United States, you god damn foreigner!

Re:Alcohol fuel is unsuitable for present engine t (1)

megamerican (1073936) | about 5 years ago | (#29223221)

Or maybe Congress could respect the 10th amendment. I know that's a lot to ask.

Re:Alcohol fuel is unsuitable for present engine t (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about 5 years ago | (#29223231)

What is this based on? I currently own five cars, all of them have over 100k miles on them. Some bought used, some bought new, and the only problem I have had was with the used cars that came out of a non-gasohol area needing frequent fuel filter changes. I admit that if I forgot to do this it killed the in-tank fuel pump, but that was something I knew would happen, I just forgot about the needed maintenance. I have seen no evidence of "engine destruction." I have not heard about any engine destruction, with the exception of a news story last year where a small engine mechanic said that older engines had trouble with the ethanol fuel mix. Well, if the fuel system has neoprene parts, it will get attacked by the ethanol. None of my yard machines has had a fuel problem, and a friend with a landscape company has not had any fuel issues either.

Re:Alcohol fuel is unsuitable for present engine t (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 5 years ago | (#29223363)

Good. When the gas engine dies maybe that SUV will be replaced with a vehicle that doesn't suck.

Re:Alcohol fuel is unsuitable for present engine t (1)

brainboyz (114458) | about 5 years ago | (#29223805)

Because other people should suffer reduced benefit/lifespan from products they've purchased because you don't agree with their decision. Riiight. Stop being an eco-dick; some people have good reason to own an SUV or large truck. For example, my truck stays parked except when I need to transport other vehicles or bulk items. I can usually make 1 trip in the truck @ 16mpg (regardless of weight), or I can make 4-5 trips in the car that normally has a 30mpg rating which drops to about 20 when heavily loaded. Blind hatred is just as pathetic as stupidity.

Compared to what alternatives? (2, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | about 5 years ago | (#29222685)

TFA sticks with the "economically viable" phrase and doesn't offer any numbers or details.

Plenty of things, including oil sands, arctic natural gas, and burning baby seal blubber can be "economically viable" in certain situations, but only when more traditional sources of crude oil reach a certain market price. This article doesn't even conjecture about when and where watermelon fuel could be "economically viable" compared to crude oil, and comparison with crude oil marks the only concrete method of making the comparison.

Naturally, using watermelons you've already grown for fuel might be viable at a pretty low return, compared with letting them rot, but the article doesn't prove that, either.

Re:Compared to what alternatives? (2, Funny)

myowntrueself (607117) | about 5 years ago | (#29224137)

and burning baby seal blubber

The industrialised operations for harvesting baby seal blubber would be a sight to behold!

Great icebreakers with huge scoops on the front ploughing through the pack ice slurping up the baby seals and turning them into bio-fuel. Awesome image there!

Ah for the good old days... Me and my girl, seal clubbing. Me and my girl, out on the ice.

Watermelon as a biofuel. (2, Insightful)

Mr.Fork (633378) | about 5 years ago | (#29222689)

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, ANY food source used as a bio-fuel is a terrible idea. Using food sources for bio-fuels has resulted in people STARVING to death in developing nations. Why can't these intelligent scientists see this? Even if it's only for spoils of watermelon crops, the fine line between selling the entire source for fuel vs food will become invisible - just as it happened for corn and wheat.

It took a global economic meltdown to correct food prices to help reset this stupidity. But it seems these morons (lets call a spade a spade) forgot this fact. All it takes is for watermelons to get expensive, and in poorer countries, you'll have the farmers selling their entire crops to bio-fuel companies.

Re:Watermelon as a biofuel. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29223059)

Your argument is true only because the system is set up the way it is. Capitalism isn't a totally natural state of affairs is a man made system, if man made it man should be able to control it. If he can't control it to achieve his goals it's a shitty system.

The world isn't really lacking food you know.

Re:Watermelon as a biofuel. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#29223083)

What makes you think that the scientists are ignorant, rather than just uncaring?

Once you delve into the realm of indirect effects(much less considering your activities in light of what you could do charitably for the same money), a huge number of common day-to-day activities involve the relentless fucking-over of anonymous poor people that you can't see. There are a relatively few people who are really, genuinely consumed by this fact, a lot more who are modestly bothered by it; but don't actually act on that basis very much, and more still who don't think about it, or consider it to be a part of the natural order of things.

Re:Watermelon as a biofuel. (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about 5 years ago | (#29223193)

Actually, what is happening is that a lot of the acres of food-land that are lost to biofuels, are being replaced by burning down rain forests. The smoke from the burning rain forests more than make up for any reduction in greenhouse gases.

Now, they are apparently looking at more food-crops to convert to burning rain forests.

Re:Watermelon as a biofuel. (3, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 5 years ago | (#29223245)

Using food sources for bio-fuels has resulted in people STARVING to death in developing nations. Why can't these intelligent scientists see this?

Perhaps because these intelligent scientists are intelligent enough to know that this is not true [] ?

Anyway, this idea is about using waste biomass for fuel.

All it takes is for watermelons to get expensive, and in poorer countries, you'll have the farmers selling their entire crops to bio-fuel companies.

And since no culture relies on watermelons as a basic sustenance crop, the problem with this is what, exactly?

Re:Watermelon as a biofuel. (1)

yincrash (854885) | about 5 years ago | (#29223513)

I agree with the first two points, but the third point is valid because if watermelon crops REPLACE sustenance crops for use in biofuel, then you get the same problem.

Re:Watermelon as a biofuel. (2, Informative)

Mr.Fork (633378) | about 5 years ago | (#29223633)

That article, written Gal Luft, BTW, works for the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, which by the way, worked/advised the Bush administration. Of course he would be advocate that biofuel and food prices are a myth - the members of this group are also pro-biofuel consortium - which may I ask, are you?

Thank goodness for Muckety.

Re:Watermelon as a biofuel. (2, Informative)

Mr.Fork (633378) | about 5 years ago | (#29223859)

My goodness, my reply wasn't flamebait - it was stating facts. (There is someone trying to hide facts from the public.) I'll go further.

This institution is also indirectly connected to - some of its members are also part of the same group. It's related to the same past administration. []

Re:Watermelon as a biofuel. (1)

eleuthero (812560) | about 5 years ago | (#29223345)

The distinction here is that as far as I know, watermelons are a staple food crop... nowhere... Corn was and continues to be a staple food in many parts of the world, including Mexico--who knows but what if Americans hadn't had their little "biofuel" craze, we wouldn't have what some would call a civil war going on just south of us.

I think watermelon excess crop use is a great idea--especially if restrictions are made on which watermelons can be used. All this said, it would seem the work on using sugars locked in more complex systems such as cellulose has longer term and greater potential -- then we can still eat the corn and then use the husk to power our lights (or what have you).

Re:Watermelon as a biofuel. (2, Insightful)

nolifetillpleather (975338) | about 5 years ago | (#29224081)

Pretty sure it's better to just bury those unused watermelons back under next season's crop. More compost means less fertilizer. Fertilizer comes from natural gas. If you want to use natural gas to move your car, you can just get a car that runs on natural gas. You don't have to convert it into watermelons first.

Water problem! (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | about 5 years ago | (#29222927)

Do those professors know how much water it's needed to grow watermelons?

Re:Water problem! (3, Informative)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#29223203)

They aren't suggesting growing more watermelons, they are suggesting that the watermelons that are presently left in the field to rot could instead be harvested and sent to a distillery.

Re:Water problem! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29223435)

And the energy spent is worth the results. Nice

Is it a good idea to use food? (1)

pembo13 (770295) | about 5 years ago | (#29222961)

Is it a good idea to use food pre-consumption as a serious fuel? There are quite a lot of people who would like food to eat, more so than fuel vehicle or even electricity.

Re:Is it a good idea to use food? (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | about 5 years ago | (#29224099)

Is it a good idea to use food pre-consumption as a serious fuel?

Should use food post-consumption as biofuel.

Turning human excrement into biofuel would be fantastic.

It might even encourage megacorporations to feed the hungry. So that their poop can be harvested and turned into fuel to be sold to the western industrialised world at a huge mark-up.

This would be delicious irony. Well, ok, not delicious but stinky...

Re:Is it a good idea to use food? (1, Troll)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 5 years ago | (#29224399)

Your idea may sound right, but I don't give a crap.

oh noes! (3, Informative)

bigmaddog (184845) | about 5 years ago | (#29223069)

This is all wonderful, us rich people can continue to drive GMC Yukons or whatever, except it has the same problems as using other foodstuffs for fuel. Oh, sure, you can use the 20% bad watermelons for it, but once watermelon->fuel processing capacity exists, market prices will dictate whether the 80% of good melons go to the grocery store or to the melon refinery, and when the global economy bounces back and fuel prices go up, it'll be just one more thing putting pressure on the food supply. Before anyone says "oh, but watermelons can't be a large part of the global food supply," what happens with cash crops is they end up more valuable than food crops (hence the name) and displace them in the fields.

And so this whole thing is barking up the wrong tree - the fuel is alternative, but it sure isn't sustainable, just one more squeeze on substance farmers someplace we don't give a damn about.

Re:oh noes! (1)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#29223255)

You mean subsistence farmers (well, probably, maybe you mean growers of various plants that drugs are refined from). Displacing first-world food crops doesn't really effect them much (maybe it gives them better prices at market for any meager leftovers they have, subsistence farming actually means living off the crops...), it effects the millions of poor who do not grow their own food.

what about a bean burrito? (1)

nycguy (892403) | about 5 years ago | (#29223365)

I can eat one of those and make biofuel from it at the same time.

And whose going to pick the seeds? (4, Funny)

101010_or_0x2A (1001372) | about 5 years ago | (#29223333)

The queues are long enough at the gas station already without having to wait for people to get EVERY LITTLE SEED out before pumping their cars full..

Meh (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 5 years ago | (#29224363)

Call me when they can run cars with Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters.

Re:Meh (3, Funny)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 5 years ago | (#29225013)

It's like having your cylinder head smashed in by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick.

Why do we continually overlook the obvious? (5, Interesting)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | about 5 years ago | (#29224711)

Although watermelons and corn can make biofuels: I offer you a much better alternative: Kudzu vine. It's already been synthesized into kudzuhol [] Kudzu grows up to a foot a day, it's the vine that ate the south. It just seems a waste to convert perfectly good food to biofuel.

Watermelon makes a great Viagra substitute too! (1)

patmandu (247443) | about 5 years ago | (#29225125)

First peanuts were good for everything, now this. Same idea, only bigger...and green...and red...and much juicer. It's truly the wonder fruit. See here []

Great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29225195)

Feed all the food to the robots. Our society has progressed beyond the need for food.

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