California and Florida produce two-thirds to three-fourths of all tomatoes grown commercially in the U.S. These two states are only surpassed by China in tomato production. Naturally, not all those tomatoes make it to our tables. But what if we could turn all those damaged tomatoes into energy?
The tomato waste in Florida alone (nearly 400,000 tons, or as much as 40 percent of tomatoes produced are tossed out each year) could generate enough electricity to power Disney World for 90 days, reports Christina Procopiou.
A team of researchers at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology has found that damaged tomatoes can, in fact, be a powerful source of energy when used in a microbial electrochemical cell. Biological, or microbial, fuel cells harness current produced by bacteria as it breaks down organic material.