Although many people now read the news online or on their e-readers, actual printed newspapers are still enjoyed by millions of people worldwide. Unfortunately all those papers add up to a lot of waste at the end of the day – but scientists at Tulane University have found a new use for the morning news: converting it to biofuel! The Tulane scientists have found that a bacterial strain, which they are calling TU-103, can actually turn newspapers into butanol to power cars.

Stack of Newspapers

The strain was first discovered in animal poop, where it turned organic matter into butanol using a patent-pending method developed by the scientists. With the presence of oxygen, the bacterial strain munches on the organic cellulose material in the paper, and yields the biofuel. Thus far, TU-103 is the only strain that the scientists have found to do so.

By converting organic cellulose material to bio-butanol, scientists predict we can curb our dependence on foreign oil. In addition, bio-butanol not only burns cleanly, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, but would also drastically reduce landfill waste. The study reports that over 323 million tons of material that this bacterial strain could convert into fuel fill our landfills each year! What’s more, biofuel can be used without having to adapt car engines as it burns similarly to traditional gasoline. It can also be transported easily, and gets great gas mileage.

The bacterial strains have been successfully turning local New Orleans newspapers into butanol, recycling yesterday’s news into today’s fuels.

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