Floridians are not making enough marinara sauce. According to a team of scientists, Florida wastes 396,000 tons of tomatoes every year — but this doesn’t have to be the case. These enterprising researchers say they now have a solution: using the damaged tomatoes, deemed useless, for electricity. The team developed a microbial electrochemical cell that can use tomato waste to generate an electric current. And it sounds promising, as one of the scientists, Namita Shrestha, says that tomatoes can be a “particularly powerful source of energy” when used this way.
It works by having bacteria interact with the waste, which then releases electrons that are captured in the fuel cell and used as a source of electricity. The change to a tomato-powered world won’t happen right away, as the ten milligrams of tomato waste can only generate a third of a watt of electricity. However, scientists are hopeful that more research could increase electrical output and that they’ve found a really good use for something that would otherwise just end up in landfills. According to Shrestha’s calculations, Florida’s annual tomato waste could theoretically produce enough electricity to keep Disney World running for 90 days. Will Lyft latch on to this as a way to power their future fleet of automated cars?