A new source for ethanol – watermelon juice?

watermelonsA study in the journal Biotechnology for Biofuels reports that juice from the thousands of watermelons left in the fields could easily help create the biofuel ethanol and other useful products.

The report reveals that 20 percent of the watermelon crop is rejected due to imperfections, odd shapes or blemishes, and ends up ploughed back into the ground. Authors of the study (Benny Bruton and Vincent Russo from the USDA-ARS, South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, and Wayne Fish) detailed a number of potential uses for the sweet red juice. It could:

  • be fermented, then used as a “diluent, supplemental feedstock, and nitrogen supplement” with other biofuel crops

  • be used in neutraceutical production to produce lycopene important to prostrate health) and L-arginine (an amino acid that’s critical for the production of nitric oxide)

  • produce ethanol

According to the report’s authors, “the 8.4 t/ha of unmarketable watermelons left in the field at harvest would produce about 220 L/ha of ethanol for on-farm use or as an additional revenue stream for the grower.”

The report concludes that the watermelon juice would have to be concentrated 2.5- to 3 times in order to serve as the sole feedstock for ethanol biofuel production but that this should be investigated.

All this from the hundreds of thousands of watermelons left every year in the field! 

Who knew we were so picky when it came to those delicious summer desert-fruits? Do we really mind those imperfections, or is that the marketing people doing their thing again?

Anyway, nice to know that something so good can be given a second shot at practical use.  Like my Mom always says, don’t waste your food!

So, fill ‘er up, please.

Missing something?

Reading onlineFor those of you who’ve been following my blog, thanks!

BUT you may have missed some of my articles.

I’ve given my wonderful blog host, GreenPress.com, exclusives on some of my articles. Take a look at their blog site, then keep checking back for more there too. And spread the word, won’t you?

Go to http://blog.greenpress.com/ and enjoy!

Numbers Tell the Green Tale

no more cash for clunkersThe now defunct Cash for Clunkers program was a resounding success. It took 700,000 gas guzzlers off the roads, an amazing testament to what hopefully is the forerunner of other “green” federal programs.

To really get the full impact of the program’s effect on the environment, you have to study the contrasts.

The average fuel economy of the trade-ins was 15.8 miles per gallon. The average fuel economy of new cars purchased was 24.9 mpg. That’s a 58% increase!

Personally, I’d have liked to see higher mpg numbers, but not bad for a first go-round with a federally run, help-the-environment program.

“This is a win for the economy, a win for the environment, and a win for American consumers,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

So now it’s on to Cash for Appliance Clunkers, the next program the Feds are hoping will take energy guzzlers out of the kitchen. Will it be at least as successful or will folks hold onto their old favorites?

What would you trade in and why? Write and let me know.

Another reason to legalize hemp

Hemcrete - a revulutionary building technology made from help

Hemcrete - a revulutionary building technology made from help

There have been a number of stories in the media the past few months about the many uses of marijuana’s cousin, hemp, and their potential for revenue.  Yet lawmakers have ignored the positive side of what this has to offer.

Now a hemp-based product in Europe   Tradical® Hemcrete®– is trying to make it’s way to the US and its high value warrants serious consideration.

Hemcrete, made by U.K.-based Lhoist Group, is a bio-composite, thermal walling building material made from hemp, lime and water.  And this new technology is carbon neutral, making it an ideal substitute for traditional concrete.

Versatile, sustainable, good looking, environmentally-friendly and 100% Hemcrete 1recyclable, Hemcrete has an amazing array of applications – from roof insulation to wall construction to flooring.  Among its many benefits, its waterproof, fireproof, insulates well, does not rot [when used above ground] and is completely recyclable. It can even be used as fertilizer when demolished!

This revolutionary product has been popular in Europe for years. BUT this species of hemp is currently illegal in the U.S., so finding a market here is going to be tough.

Perhaps if there’s enough money to be made from it, pressure on politicians will turn the tide, forcing them to revisit the issue.

Regardless, it’s so profitable overseas that Hemp Technologies, one of the biggest manufacturers of hemp products in the UK, is actively recruiting as many new growers as it can.

So instead of making it illegal, perhaps its time for hemp to take its rightful place as a viable, versatile, cash cow again here in the U.S. What do you think?

I can recycle that?

Recycling logo

If you thought recycling only meant paper, plastic or aluminum cans, think again.

More municipalities and waste management divisions are expanding what they’ll accept. Many now accept glossy-covered magazines. Some are accepting used batteries and a few have begun taking back used CFL’s or compact florescent lightbulbs (the curly-cue kind). Those last two, by the way, MUST be carefully packaged separately and brought back to your recycling center, not dumped into your recycling bin.

But the list is continually growing, as are the take-back venues. For more details on this and contact links, go to http://3.ly/8C8.

Could Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak be real?

Okay, so this is off topic. But I couldn’t resist this fantasy meets reality technology news.

Radar waves go around a bare-bones real Cloak of Invisibility

Radar waves go around a bare-bones real Cloak of Invisibility

Back in October 2006 a team of American and British scientists created what could be considered a rudimentary “invisibility cloak”.  They succeeded in “hiding” a copper cylinder from being detected by microwaves. The radar or other waves simply passed around the cylinder as if it wasn’t there.

Flash forward. A report released in London today says:

“An international team of physicists have revealed that metamaterials, which are currently being used to make real-life invisibility cloaks, may soon shrink cellphone antennas, leading to smaller gadgets.”

And who said truth was stranger than fiction?

Someone else (Mr. Anonymous himself) said “if you can dream it, you can do it.”

So where do I buy mine?

Bug Bam: the DEET-free insect repellent

Giant Mosquito

Though school’s started, there’s still plenty of hot weather ahead for backyard barbecues and lakeside weekends.

Bug Bam - a top quality DEET-free alternative

Bug Bam - a top quality DEET-free alternative

Normally reach for heavy duty insect repellent to deter pesky mosquitoes? Instead, consider Bug Bam. This DEET-free, waterproof and sweat-proof wristband, made with FDA approved ingredients and plant-based essential oils, protects without harsh chemicals. Non-toxic, food-grade, safe for babies, kids and adults, Bug Bam has a pleasant citronella – lemon balm scent.

Bug Bam’s the brainchild of Australian outdoorsman and entrepreneur Joseph Symond, President and CEO of Bug Bam Products.

Symond grew up loving fishing. But he watched his fishing gear mysteriously disintegrate and realized later that DEET (N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) bug spray was the culprit.

Considered a neuro toxin, research shows DEET “melts” plastics and synthetic fibers and has is hazardous to skin, with documented cases of skin scarring. Holiday revelers often confuse DEET poisoning symptoms as food poisoning.

Bug Bam’s the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s100 percent natural ingredients have tested safe at independent laboratories in Australia and the U.S.

Originally created in 1998, when the West Nile Virus began springing up, Symond realized: “300 million people in the U.S. now had a mosquito problem.” He introduced the reformulated Bug Bam in 2006.

After being featured on the Today Show twice, Richard Branson tested Bug Bam and bought a truckload, as did the U.S. Navy. Walmart and Big 5 Sporting Goods followed and, says Symond, “it was a vertical line straight up!”

Bug Bam's wristband protects your whole body with all natural essentials oils

Bug Bam's wristband protects your whole body with all natural essentials oils

Bug Bam’s original product – the red wrist band – comes in adult and kids sizes. “It’s considered a personal repellent,” says Symond.

For outdoors, there’s the Bug Bam Grid, a plastic square with star-shaped holes to let air flow through and a built-in hook for a belt, an umbrella, to place near a tent or a

The Grid has 5 times more potency than Bug Bam's wristband

The Grid has 5 times more potency than Bug Bam's wristband

picnic area. The Grid has about 5 times more of what the wrist band has, says Symond.

To ensure top quality and effectiveness, Symond had the Grid tested at UC Davis by one of the country’s top entomologists, who released 750 mosquitoes capable of carrying malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever and West Nile Virus into an enclosure.

“It kept mosquitoes from biting both the (simulated human blood) and humans up to 300 square feet for 100 hours,” said Symond.

As to longevity, the warmer (or more humid) it is, the shorter Bug Bam’s lifespan. Store in its resealable bag when not in use. Its shelf life is two years if stored in a cool, dry place.

In an area with lots of mosquitoes? For maximum effectiveness use two wristbands or hang up two Grids instead of one.

Bug Bam's Pet Tag helps protect your dog from heartworm

Bug Bam's Pet Tag helps protect your dog from heartworm

Dog lovers will love Bug Bam’s Pet Tag. It’s 100 percent natural and contains only EPA/FDA approved ingredients – geranium, citronella and lemongrass. It’s been scientifically proven to repel mosquitoes, fleas and ticks without using the harsh chemicals found in flea collars and topical products.

Most dog owners don’t know that mosquitoes transmit deadly heartworm, says Symond. There are no known side effects when using the Pet Tag in combination with other heartworm products.

You should give your pet regular heartworm medicine anyway, Symond said.

The Pet Tag works on scent. When you can’t smell it, it’s time to change it. If your dog reacts to it, just take it off.

A package of two Pet tags lasts about a month.

Symond wanted to get the Pet Tag tested, but wasn’t willing to deal with the “disposal” fee. Laboratories test on dogs and routinely “dispose” (euthanize) of them after testing.

Instead, Symond has veterinarians test the product.

Bug Bam’s popularity has grown worldwide. The United Nations has approved using his product for their “Roll Back Maleria” program. He’s been approached by Madonna’s organization to take it to Malawi to protect its 22 million people.

“Making something that saves peoples lives – that’s the fun part,” says Symond.

Bug Bam’s wristband is available at some Walmart stores (not all). The Pet Tag, which is new, is only available online. Wristbands retail for $3.95, the Grid for $5.95 and a package of 2 Pet tags is $7.95. Order any of these at Bugbam.com or phone 1-888-899-3308.

We're in Hot Water all over the world!

Waters off Maine are seeing unprecedented warming temperatures

Waters off Maine are seeing unprecedented warming temperatures

The world’s oceans are heating up at an alarming rate.

In an article penned by noted AP Science writer Seth Borenstein, July was the hottest the world’s oceans have been in almost 130 years of record-keeping.

This translates to water temperaturs of 72 degrees off the coast of Maine and 90 degrees in the Gulf of Mexico. And worse, temperatures near the Arctic are up 10 degrees above average, creating devastating environmental consequences.

To see see a stunning map of daily sea surface temperature anomalies (differences from normal) from US Navy (in Fahrenheit) go to http://3.ly/fhs (it may say it’s not a secure site, but don’t worry).  The redder it is, the hotter the temps.

If this isn’t a wake up call, what is?

Monsanto Goes after DuPont

Pot and KettleIt’s a case of the pot and the kettle really.

Monsanto – long famous for strong-arming farmers and deceptive advertising for their oh-so earth friendly GMO seeds – has accused their chief competitor in the seed business, DuPont, of covert attacks on Monsanto’s business practices.

The chairman of Monsanto, Hugh Grant (no, sorry, not the actor), has accused DuPont of using third parties to attack Monsanto, saying these activities “were misleading to the public and a serious breach of business ethics far beyond honest competitor behavior.” He also accused DuPont of being “dishonest, disingenuous and downright deceitful.”

Now didn’t his mama tell him if you can’t say something nice, ….?

This is but one more “skirmish” in the battle between the two corporate giants. In 2006 and 2007, DuPont tried to block Monsanto from buying Delta & Pine Land Co., the then largest cotton seed supplier in the U.S.

This past May, Monsanto filed a lawsuit against DuPont for patent infringement. DuPont countersued, accusing Monsanto of being anti-competitive.

Between falsifying documents, name calling and mud-slinging, watching these two beheamuths is like watching a decent “B” movie without the popcorn.

For more details on this somewhat amusing story, see http://3.ly/mGR.

Affordable solar – coming to a town near you?

Solar panelsA non-profit plans to launch a financing progam that will make installing solar more affordable throughout California.

The California Statewide Community Development Authority (CSCDA) will model its program after a similar one in the city of Berkeley, which sells bonds to finance residents borrowing money for solar installation, to be repaid (with interest) over 20 years through property taxes. California cities and towns will be able to join this project without having to find their own investors.

“Our program offers a good offset to the biggest hurdle for solar – the big upfront costs,” said Terrence Murphy, a program manager at the CSCDA.

CSCDA also wants to extend the project to finance home energy efficiency improvements, especially permanent installations like insulation and temperature retaining windows.  It’s anticipated the program will kick off this Fall.

Cities and towns will be first in line, with residents and businesses to follow later.

This program could spur other states to implement similar projects. Now that’s what I call progress!