HERE is one way that supposedly old-fashioned newsprint beats the Internet. American scientists have discovered a novel bacterial strain, dubbed “TU-103,” that can use paper to produce butanol, a biofuel that can serve as a substitute for petrol.
They are currently experimenting with old editions of the Times Picayune, New Orleans’ venerable daily newspaper, with great success. The even older Press and Journal would be just as effective as a feedstock.
TU-103 is the first bacterial strain from nature that produces butanol directly from cellulose, an organic compound.
“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 Dr Harshad Velankar of Tulane University.
Hundreds of millions of tonnes of cellulose materials are quite literally wasted on both sides of the Atlantic.
As a biofuel, butanol is superior to ethanol (commonly produced from corn sugar) because it can readily fuel existing motor vehicles.