Have you ever thought of what rotten tomatoes can be used for? If not, then this is the news for you.
Those red looking tomatoes can actually light up your bulb. Yes, scientists have invented a technique which can aid in producing electricity from the rotten tomatoes. The team consists of an Indian scientist too.
A team comprising Namita Shrestha and assistant professor Venkataramana Gadhamshetty from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and Alex Fogg (an undergraduate student of chemistry) from Princeton University carried out a pilot project and presented their findings at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
0.3 watts from 10 milligrams of tomato
While they were only able to generate 0.3 watts of electricity in their experiment, the team believes the concept could be scaled up – so much so that Florida’s annual tomato waste could be used to power Disney World for 90 days says Namita Shrestha.
Florida produces huge quantities of tomatoes each year, so much so that 396,000 tons ends up as waste. At present, there is no effective means of disposing of the discarded tomatoes. Often, it ends up in landfill, where it can produce methane (a greenhouse gas), or in water bodies, where it can cause water treatment problems.
Scientists Venkataramana Gadhamshetty and Alex Fogg sought to solve this problem after two years of research. They developed a microbial electrochemical cell that can turn tomato waste into an electric current.
“Microbial electrochemical cells use bacteria to break down and oxidise organic material in defective tomatoes,” said Namita Shrestha, who works on the project. The oxidisation process releases electrons captured in the food cell to become a source of electricity. Researchers found the pigment in tomatoes is very effective at encouraging the generation of electrical charges from the fruit.
However, they are not there yet: “Our research question at this time is to investigate the fundamental electron transfer mechanisms and the interaction between the solid tomato waste and microbes,” Gadhamshetty said.
Expert says global need for clean energy is first step to battling climate change.