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Mushroom biofuel | Photo source Andrew Ridley on Unsplash

Engineers produce biofuel from mushroom waste

Mobility & Transport

A naturally occurring bacteria turns cellulose into a petrol substitute that gas-powered cars can use without requiring any modification.

Rather than compete with food crops for water, space and other resources, a new biofuel called mushroom biobutanol is created from a naturally occurring waste product. National University of Singapore researchers found that the process of harvesting mushrooms naturally created a bacteria that is capable of turning cellulose into biobutanol. Of particular importance in the new biofuel is its high energy density and overall similarity to petrol when in use. That means that owners of gas-powered cars may be able to directly swap the products they use to power their vehicles without requiring expensive structural and mechanical modifications.

Some are hailing the discovery as a game-changer. It may well be, in several ways. The bacteria used in the fermentation process of the new biofuel is strong enough to be used on its own. This is also without adding any additional treatments to the organic matter. The bacteria is likely to be capable of use with a number of different waste products. This can be from a variety of horticultural and agricultural processes. Furthermore, the mushroom biobutanol is a much more sustainable option than most of the currently available alternative fuel sources.

Other waste products that are being tested for their potential as biofuels include clothing and olive mill wastewater. A partnership of several companies is combining resources in order to help a wide variety of retailers recycle unsold and used goods, including clothing, paper and other fibers, into a commercial bioethanol for airplanes. Similarly, another team of researchers has found a solution to improve the environmental footprint of olive oil production. By combining olive mill wastewater with another regional waste product – cypress sawdust, the scientists produced water safe for irrigation use, a condensed gas bio-oil for use as a heat source and biofertilizer pellets. How else could other production processes put waste to new, eco-friendly, creative uses?

Email: dprsec@nus.edu.sg

Website: www.nus.edu.sg

Contact: dprsec@nus.edu.sg

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