Could Cars Be Fueled By Recycled Newspaper?

A novel bacterial strain uses recycled newspaper to produce butanol, a biofuel that can serve as a substitute for gasoline.

Don’t rule out the newspaper industry just yet. Producing fuel out of newspaper with the help of bacteria found in animal droppings may seem a bit far-fetched, but that’s exactly what scientists at Tulane University have done. The team discovered a novel bacterial strain (dubbed ‘TU-103′) that converts The New Orleans Times-Picayune paper aka cellulose directly into butanol, a biofuel that can serve as a substitute for gasoline. What makes this new bacterial strain unique is its ability to survive in the presence of oxygen.

Besides this positive impact on landfill waste, butanol is a better fuel than ethanol as well. Not only is it higher in energy, it can also be used to fuel existing motor vehicles without any modifications to the engine as opposed to ethanol. Will this finally be the discovery that puts biofuel on par with gasoline price wise? Regardless, this method effectively produces biofuel and has the potential to recycle large amounts of waste. Professor David Mullin explains the environmental implications of this finding:

This discovery could reduce the cost to produce bio-butanol. 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.

Tulane University