Yesterday's news could be tomorrow's fuel.
Tulane University scientists discovered a strain of clostridia bacteria, dubbed "TU-103," that can devour old newspapers to produce butanol, a substitute for gasoline.
Old editions of the Times Picayune, New Orleans' daily newspaper, have been successfully used by the researchers to produce butanol from the cellulose in the paper. Cellulose is a structural material in plants.
TU-103 is the first bacterial strain found in nature (not genetically engineered) to produce butanol directly from cellulose. It is also the only strain yet found that can grow in the presence of oxygen. Keeping bacterial fermentation chambers air tight makes other strains more expensive to work with.
"This discovery could reduce the cost to produce bio-butanol," said David Mullin, who's lab discovered the bacterial strain, in a Tulane press release.
"In addition to possible savings on the price per gallon, as a fuel, bio-butanol produced from cellulose would dramatically reduce carbon dioxide and smog emissions in comparison to gasoline, and have a positive impact on landfill waste," he added.
The newly discovered strain can be used to make fuel from any source of cellulose, not just paper. TU-103 was discovered in animal feces.