Scientists: Bacteria eat newspapers, make car fuel
Tulane University scientists announced they discovered an unusual bacteria that produces the biofuel butanol by eating paper, and suggested people could soon be recycling newspapers to fill their gas tanks, with help from the microbes they named T-103.
The researchers have been feeding stacks of old newspapers to the TU-103 bacteria with great success,claimed biologist David Mullin and his colleagues
Identified by Mullin's team in animal poop, TU-103 is the first natural bacterial strain discovered that generates
directly by consuming cellulose
, which could be the most common organic compound on earth, because it supports the cellular structure of all green plants.
Mullin's lab has applied for a patent on the method it developed for growing the microbes to produce fuel in the presence of oxygen, which is lethal to other known butenol-producing bacteria, greatly reducing the costs of the process.
Butanol biofuel contains more energy than ethanol that is produced from corn sugar, does not require engine modifications for use and can be carried through existing pipelines, the researchers explained.
Mullin said he expects this process will reduce bio-butenol production costs, reduce smog and carbon dioxide emissions and help keep discarded paper out of landfills.
According to ScienceDaily, separate research teams have been experimenting recently with new ways to tweak microbes
into producing biofuels more efficiently and cost-effectively, including metabolism reversal
and blocking carbon dioxide fixation