Don't give up on the newspaper industry just yet--it could soon be powering your car. Researchers at Tulane University have discovered a strain of bacteria that can turn paper into butanol, a biofuel substitue for gasoline.
The bacteria, dubbed "TU-103," was found when the folks in David Mullin's lab in Tulane's Department of Cell and Molecular Biology were weeding through the contents of some animal droppings one day. It turned out to be some lucky scat--TU-103 is believed to be the first bacterial strain from nature that produces butanol directly from cellulose, an organic matter found in everything from paper to Caesar salads.
"Cellulose is found in all green plants, and is the most abundant organic material on earth, and converting it into butanol is the dream of many," said Harshad Velankar, a postdoctoral fellow in Mullin's lab, in a statement last week. "In the United States alone, at least 323 million tons of cellulosic materials that could be used to produce butanol are thrown out each year." … Read more