A novel way to turn orange peel into oil, using a microwave has been discovered by a British scientist.
Professor James Clark at the University of York found high-powered microwaves could break down the molecules in fruit peel to release gases that could be collected and distilled into a liquid product, the Daily Express reported.
These valuable gases were then used to produce oil, plastics, chemicals and fuels.
Among them was pectin, a thickening agent in jam, which was turned into motor fuel and also carbon used in water purifying machines.
Limonene, the chemical that gives citrus fruits their distinctive smell, was used in cosmetics and cleaning products, as well as glue.
Professor Clark claims the microwave method could also be used on a variety of plant-based waste to make fuel or other products. They include straw, cashew nut shells, apple peel, coffee or rice husks.
"Waste orange peel is an excellent example of a wasted resource. In Brazil, the world's largest producer of orange juice, half the orange fruit is left as waste once the juice has been recovered. This corresponds to eight million tons a year of orange peel that can be used to produce chemicals, materials and fuels," he said.
He built the 200,000 pounds microwave, which looks like one found in any kitchen, at his laboratory in the Green Chemistry Centre at the University of York.
It can only treat small amounts of food waste, but by December a model that can process 30 kilos of waste an hour is due to be in operation.