Apple Ethanol

Washington man fuels truck with waste apples
By Holly Jessen | August 15, 2011

A seventh-grade science teacher from north-central Washington State has his sights set on teaching sustainability through a project to produce ethanol from waste apples.
Even though the feedstock is free, getting set up to produce ethanol wasn’t, Tim Bomaci tells EPM. He estimated it cost him $400 a gallon or more to produce his first tank of apple ethanol, which he used to drive his 1990 Ford pickup in the Apple Blossom Parade held in May in Manson, Wash.

Bomaci produces ethanol using a wood chipper, a washing machine and a still. He can produce four gallons in about four hours. Now that he has all the equipment he needs, his only costs will be for yeast and electricity. In time, he may try producing ethanol with other fruits such as cherries. His goal is to produce enough ethanol to keep him driving for the next year, or about 2,000 miles.

Originally, Bomaci hoped he could make ethanol production a school project. He can’t put a distillery on school property, though, so he’ll incorporate what he can into his science classes. He’s also offering to let teachers come to him with their students—such as for chemistry or business development classes. Finally, he’s considering continuing his own education so he can teach sustainability classes at the high school level. 

—Holly Jessen