Gallery: Brown University Identifies Hungry Microbe That Could be Key t...

Jason Sello and Rebecca Page

The quick rise and depressing downward spiral of the ethanol industry proved that using food to make biofuel is both wasteful and costly. Non food-based biofuels, such as those derived from grasses, trees, or algae, are far more sustainable but harder to produce. In order to access the sugars in plant biomass that will eventually become fuel, scientists must find a way to break down lignin, a polymer that forms the thick, woody cell walls of most plants and trees. Now researchers at Brown University have identified a type of bacteria that loves to digest lignin, and it might be able to act as a tiny biorefinery for sustainable fuel production.

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  1. Nivekian April 12, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    I still don’t understand why we don’t harvest the hydrogen from the methane produced by decaying organic material…

  2. ronwagn February 21, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    This is not a criticism, but I am always afraid that they will come up with something that will devour all life forms on earth, then it will starve to death, and we will be back to square one. Just saying….

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