The researchers have discovered a bacterial microbe that likes the taste of old newspapers — the cellulosic wood pulp that makes the paper, to be more exact. In the process of eating the paper, the microbes excrete a biofuel that can act as a substitute for gasoline, the Detroit News reports.
Such microbes aren’t new; we outlined their potential to make ethanol a few years ago. The difference here is the type of fuel that comes out of the microbes: butanol.
Butanol is better than ethanol because it doesn’t require any modifications to today’s gasoline-powered engines. (Many older cars can’t accept E15, let alone E85.) Also, butanol would generate similar gas mileage performance as gasoline. Ethanol has 27% less energy per gallon compared with gas.
It’s not yet known if this discovery is marketable or scalable, especially since alternative fuels are a bit out of vogue, with more attention focused on electrics, plug-ins and hybrids. A wider variety of renewable power is always a good problem to have, though.
Scientists Create Biofuel From Old Newspapers (The Detroit News)