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Bacteria Turn Old Newspapers Into Biofuel to Power Cars


NewsstandThere is something sacred about the unique relationship between the morning coffee and the printed newspaper, which no website can recreate. Unfortunately, this comes at the price of generating huge amount of waste, and the one who pays is our environment. But, this is old news, because scientists have now found a way to turn the good old newspaper into biofuel.

Even though news bombard us from all electronic gadgets and huge news boards along the streets and within the public transport, the pleasure of flipping through the printed paper is hard to describe. However, there is always that slightly guilty feeling that leaves a bad taste in the mouth as soon as the entire paper is read, and that is because it has to be thrown away.

Many recycling strategies are now being implemented to convert a newspaper into some other usable paper-based item, but nothing has been quite like the one that a team of researchers from Tulane University developed. After a series of lab tests, the guys were able to discover a unique strain of bacteria in newspapers, that can be used to make the biofuel butanol.

The team led by Harshad Velankar, a post-doctoral researcher, refers to the bacteria as TU-103. This particular strain has been used previously by the same guys to convert organic matter into butanol, but it was believed that TU-103 can be found only in animal faeces. Now, they discovered that they can also convert organic cellulose into biofuel because of TU-103 being present in it too. The guys estimated that every year, landfill sites receive as much as 323 million tons of materials that contain TU-103 and can be turned into clean biofuel.

The findings of this research open up incredible possibilities for biofuel production, not only because used product is recycled into something that the world has a huge shortage of, but also because bio-butanol is extremely clean and can cut down greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles incredibly.

Image (c) Shutterstock

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