All parts of the peanut plant can be used. The peanut, grown primarily for human consumption, has several uses as whole seeds or is processed to make peanut butter, oil, and other products. The seed contains 25 to 32% protein (average of 25% digestible protein) and 42 to 52% oil. A pound of peanuts is high in food energy and provides approximately the same energy value as 2 pounds of beef, 1.5 pounds of Cheddar cheese, 9 pints of milk, or 36 medium-size eggs (Woodroof, 1983).

Peanuts are consumed chiefly as roasted seeds or peanut butter in the United States compared to use as oil elsewhere in the world. Americans eat about 4 million pounds (unshelled weight) of peanuts each day. Approximately two-thirds of all U.S. peanuts are used for food products of which most are made into peanut butter. Salted and shelled peanuts, candy, and roasted-in-shell peanuts are the next most common uses for peanuts produced in this country. The remaining one-third of annual production is used for seed, feed, production of oil, or exported as food or oil. The large nuts sold as in- and out-of-shell are supplied by Virginia (confectionery or cocktail) and Runner ("beer nuts") types. Spanish varieties supply small shelled nuts, "redskins", and the Valencia type is used for medium-size nuts in the shell. Runner and Spanish are made into peanut butter while all types are used for peanut products that do not require a specific seed size.

Nonfood products such as soaps, medicines, cosmetics, and lubricants can be made from peanuts. The vines with leaves are an excellent high protein hay for horses and ruminant livestock. The pods or shells serve as high fiber roughage in livestock feed, fuel (fireplace "logs"), mulch, and are used in manufacturing particle board or fertilizer.


Peanuts used alone in a feeder are a fine food for many species of bird; peanut granules, either added to a feeder or ground mix or used on the bird table, will attract several species which would not normally feed on whole nuts.


 Peanut shells aren't dumped anymore like they were a few years ago, says Victor Sobolev, US Department of Agriculture Chemist, National Peanut Research Laboratory. Instead they're recycled in many ways.

A third of the shells end up in mixed feeds for cattle. Another third make a base for litter and bedding. Almost a third (30%) help absorb chemicals, such as within activated carbon to remove offensive tastes, odors, colors, chlorine, and organics.

The remaining 3% go into all sorts of stuff: plastic, wallboard, abrasives, fuel, cellulose (used in rayon and paper), mucilage (glue), mulching, kitty litter, linoleum, and a source of hydrogen for fuel cells.

On Sep. 2, 2002, researchers from Clark Atlanta University and Georgia Institute of Technology produced hydrogen from peanut shells for use in fuel cells. (These cells convert chemical to electrical energy). By the way, fuel cells (running on hydrogen) produce water and electricity for the space shuttle. George Washington Carver devised a way of making paper from peanut shells in the 1920s.

(Answered Nov. 22, 2002


Charring Peanut Shells for Hydrogen Fuel

By Don Comis
August 25, 2004

Donald C. Reicosky, an Agricultural Research Service soil scientist at the North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory in Morris, Minn., has teamed up with an inventor of a patent-pending process to turn agricultural biomassówastes like peanut shellsóinto hydrogen fuel and charcoal fertilizer. The inventor, Danny Day, president of Eprida, Inc., a technology and development company in Athens, Ga., has also joined forces with U.S. Department of Energy scientists who hold a patent on a related technology.




Adsorption of selected toxic metals by modified peanut shells

S. CHAMARTHY1, C. W. Seo, and W. E. Marshall. (1) Food and Nutrition, Dept. of Human Environment and Family Sciences, North Carolina A&T State University, 161 Carver Hall, Greensboro, NC 27411

Disposal of agricultural byproducts such as peanut shells has become a serious problem in the U.S. due to the enactment of more stringent federal and state regulation. Water contamination by heavy metals is another serious ongoing problem in this country. Conversion of these low-value peanut shells into adsorbent that can remove toxic metals from wastewater would increase their market value and ultimately benefit peanut producers.

The objective was to modify peanut shells to enhance the adsorption efficiency. Ground peanut shells were modified using combinations of various wash and acid treatments. Wash treatments consisted of water wash, base wash with 0.1N NaOH, and unwash. Acid treatments were applied using 0.6M citric, 0.6M phosphoric acid, and no acid treatment. A 3x3 factorial design was used in the experiment. The modified peanut shell samples were evaluated for their adsorption efficiency with 5 different single metal ions individually in 20mM concentration and with all 5 metal combined in one solution. The metals used were Cd(II), Cu(II), Ni(II), Pb(II) and Zn(II). Adsorption efficiency for the commercial resins namely, Amberlite-200, Amberlite-IRC-718, Duolite GT-73, and carboxymethyl cellulose was determined to compare with the modified peanut shells.

For the individual metal adsorption efficiency, washed and acid-modified peanut shells statistically had the same adsorption efficiency as Duolite GT-73 for Cd(II), Cu(II), Ni(II), which was 0.49 mmoles/g, 0.70 mmoles/g, and 0.40 mmoles/g, respectively. The adsorption efficiency was more when compared to carboxymethyl cellulose for Zn(II) which had 0.34 mmoles/g. For the mixed metal adsorption efficiency, all the nine types of modified peanut shells had better adsorption for Cd(II) than Duolite GT-73 and Amberlite-IRC-718, which was 0.09 mmoles/g and 0.05 mmoles/g, respectively. Acid-treated samples had better adsorption efficiency than Amberlite-200 for Cu(II) and Amberlite-IRC for Pb(II), which were 0.15 mmoles/g and 0.55 mmoles/g, respectively.

Modified peanut shells are promising adsorbents for selected toxic metals.



As part of the grant, Birdsong Peanuts in Suffolk and Environmental Solutions in Richmond committed $2 million for a pilot manufacturing plant to demonstrate how up to 250,000 peanut pallets could be shaped each year.

Under current plans, the plant would be built in Suffolk over the next 18 months, employing up to 15 people, Harrell said. Exact locations still are being negotiated.

In winning this first-ever energy grant in Virginia, the companies told federal officials that, at best, their technology would save as much as 56 billion BTUs of energy that otherwise is needed to build traditional wood pallets.

Also, the project could spare as much as 6,250 tons of wood scrap from being dumped into area landfills, and reduce the number of trees required for pallet manufacturing by 19,230 oak trees in just its first year, according to their grant application.