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Recyling Newspapers into fuel

12:55 PM EDT, September 1, 2011

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As if you needed another reason to go out and buy a paper (OK, cheap marketing plug there), here's  this tidbit from The Detroit News, via Cars.com:

If researchers at Tulane University have their way, old news could be a new fuel.

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.

 

-Courtesy Cars.com. Check out the full story here.