The microbe, dubbed TU-103, was found when researchers in Tulane's Department of Cell and Molecular Biology were digging through animal feces. As it turns out, TU-103 is capable of producing bio-butanol (check out Butanol 101 here) directly from cellulose, an organic matter found in, well, let's turn to the words of Harshad Velankar, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Tulane:
What this basically means is that all those newspapers collecting dust in your attic, garage or even in some dark closet could one day be converted to fuel. Tulane University associate professor, David Mullin, says: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. 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.
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.But what if the newspaper industry no longer exists when this bio-butanol scheme comes to life? We won't want to power our cars with shredded iPads.