Despite the now ubiquitous use of the internet to follow both local and world news, newspapers continue to exist for many people as their daily connection to current events. In many countries that’s not their only use of course. We’ve written about the recycling initiatives of newspaper bags and baskets, as well as their use as wrappers and packaging in markets around the world. But used for fueling our cars? Now that’s news!
Tulane University associate professor of cell and molecular biology Dr. Mullin and his team have just applied for a patent for a method to produce the biofuel butanol from organic material.
Dr. Mullin explains that butanol is more efficient than other bio-fuels such as ethanol, because it can be used with current combustion engine technology without modifications. Not to mention the clear benefits of recycling a resource vs. planting corn or cane for the express purpose of ethanol production (and all the ramifications involved with land clearing and monoculture agriculture).
“Cellulose is found in all green plants and is the most abundant organic material on earth. Converting it into butanol is the dream of many,” says Harshad Velankar, who was a postdoctoral fellow in Mullin’s lab. “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.”
Did he say “cellulose“?! I’d be happy to extend my nappie challenge to Dr. Mullin’s team and their natural bacterial strain “TU-103”. That would certainly be another way to put nappies in the news.