Temas Especiales

19 de Ene de 2022


Vitamin C for your car

PANAMA. The orange would not only be a source of energy for man, but could become an alternative fuel source for cars.

PANAMA. The orange would not only be a source of energy for man, but could become an alternative fuel source for cars.

According to America Economia, a Latin American business magazine, the process of turning oranges into ethanol was elaborated by the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, and in few years could be brought to the market.

The research project was headed by Wilbur Widmer, who says the advantage of producing ethanol from orange wastes is that the raw material is mainly given away for free, as opposed to sugarcane and corn, which are currently used to produce ethanol in places such as Brazil (sugarcane) and the United States (corn).

In Florida, for example, the citric industry generates 1.2 million tons of orange wastes a year.

Each ton, according to America Economia, “is capable of generating close to 12 gallons of ethanol, which gives the impression of being a low volume of output per ton, but not if you take into account that 80 percent of that ton consists of water that evaporates in the process.” With the appropriate infrastructure, Florida could produce 14.4 million gallons of ethanol.

Another significant advantage to using orange wastes for ethanol production is that the use of this type of raw material would not affect food prices, known to have risen in the United States and Mexico as a consequence to higher demand for corn.

Brazil, Mexico and Central America are pointed out as the countries with the most potential to promote this new industry.

In Panama, the news was well received. The chemical engineer, Rafael Carles said that it is “an excellent news, seeing as for more than a century the oil companies have maintained an absolute monopoly over the exploitation and distribution of the world’s energy sources.”

In Panama, some 3,500 hectares of orange cultivation exist, mainly in Cocle, Chiriqui and Veraguas. Every hectare can hold between 300 and 400 trees, which produce an average of 300 oranges per season.

The market analyst from the Institute of Agricultural Marketing (IMA), Antonio Valdes, considers producing ethanol from oranges a viable alternative that could boost orange production and generate new jobs. The only difficult he sees along the road is that these type of alternative fuel projects “are usually blocked by oil groups.”