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Pit Power

Pit Power

There are things on this planet that seem to serve no useful purpose to mankind: Mosquitoes. Slime mold. Kardashians. Coconut husks, nutshells and mango pits would seem to fall into that category (unless you’re planning to try and grow a tree from that mango you just ate; in which case, good luck to you).

But now researchers at the University of Kentucky say that endocarp — the hard organic material that makes up biological byproducts like coconut husks, the shells of smaller nuts like pecans and pistachios, and stones from fruit like mangoes, olives, peaches, plums and cherries — could actually comprise a valuable fuel source, especially in Southeast Asia, where endocarp-containing produce is plentiful. Endocarp is flush with the chemical compound lignin, which can generate an energy-rich gas when heated. It also capitalizes on an existing and prevalent waste product, making it superior to crops grown exclusively for biofuel purposes.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, the researchers estimate endocarp-derived fuel has the potential to meet up to 30 percent of total energy needs in Sri Lanka, 25 percent in the Philippines, 13 percent in Indonesia and 3 percent in India.

Which is a much more productive use of a cherry pit than spitting it at the back of your brother’s head.


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