Saturday, May 3, 2014
That's just nuts!
The pistachio, the cumbersome-to-shell cashew relative that’s great for the heart, filled with antioxidants, and makes for a delightful addition to pesto, is being eyed as a potential heating source for a proposed eco-city in Gaziantep, a region in southeast Turkey that, as would luck would have it, is ground-zero for production of this tasty and versatile culinary nut. (Seriously, if it was socially acceptable to eat baklava and spumoni with every meal, I totally would).
More specifically, discarded pistachio shells would be used to heat buildings in the massive development, and Gaziantep, which produced roughly 4,000 pounds of “green gold” in 2013, is apparently lousy with them.
Explains Seda Muftuoglu Gulec, a Turkish green building expert, to Agence France-Presse:
Gaziantep's potential in pistachio production is known, as well as its considerable amount of pistachio shells waste.
We are planning to obtain biogas, a kind of renewable energy, from burning pistachio shells.
We thought the ecological city could be heated by burning pistachio shells because when you plan such environment-friendly systems, you take a look at natural resources you have. If the region was abundant in wind power, we would utilise wind energy.
Hey, when life gives you pistachio shells why not make biogas? Right?
Turkey comes in third, behind Iran and the U.S., in global pistachio production; last year, the country exported 6,800 pounds of the nut. China, which ranks fourth in production, consumes the most pistachios. I do wonder what the shelled vs. unshelled ratio coming out of Gaziantep is — one would assume a bulk of the nuts exported from the region are already shelled given plans to heat an entire city with the waste?
While Gaziantep’s eco-city seems to have its rather unique heating situation figured out —it’s based on pistachio shell-to-energy research conducted by French engineering firm Burgeap — the whole shebang, as mentioned, appears to have a ways to go: Spanning 3,200 hectares and housing 200,000 people (!), the newly built nut-opia is “still pending approval from local authorities," according to AFP.
Although I certainly don’t recommend attempting to heat your own home with spent pistachio shells, there are several other uses for them in the event that you’re a prolific eater/shell hoarder of the nut: slug deterrents in the garden, mulch/soil additive, campfire-starter, DIY Christmas ornament/jewelry staple, or “bowls for plastic toy animals.”