If you like tequila, you have agave to thank -- or maybe to curse, depending on your experience with the alcoholic beverage.
But now agave, which is the base ingredient for tequila, could do more than just help meet your margarita needs.
Scientist Leopoldo Javier Rios Gonzalez at Coahuila Autonomous University teamed up with the Guadalajara-based company Fuel Flex Mexico to develop a biofuel formula using agave and leftovers from the tequila industry.
The tequila industry typically discards the leaves and the bagasse (pulpy residue) of the agave plant, but now those scraps won't go to waste.
"It is important to produce combustible ethanol from scraps or bagasse of the tequilana weber agave plant for three reasons: we are using something that is garbage; because of the high amount of sugars in this material; and the tequila industry has a new window (of opportunity)," Rios explained.
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Researchers at the universities of Oxford and Sydney published their findings about agave-based biofuels in the Energy & Environmental Science journal in 2011.
The study explained that the agave plant attracted their attention because of its high sugar content and its ability to "grow in naturally water-limited environments."
The results of their study suggested "that ethanol derived from agave is likely to be superior, or at least comparable, to that from corn, switchgrass and sugarcane in terms of energy and [greenhouse gas] GHG balances."
Rios Gonzalez and his team found that their agave-based fuel produces 30 to 40 percent fewer emissions than gasoline.
Max Urtusuastegui, the CEO of Fuel Flex Mexico, explained that their agave-based biofuel is currently only being sold as an additive that has to be mixed with gasoline.
Still, Urtusuastegui said people are starting to accept the product.
"Our sales have grown by up to 500 percent in the past two years because of the uprising (price) of fossil fuel," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.