By on November 6, 2008

Gentlemen, start your tractors. LiveScience reports that scientists have discovered a diesel fuel-making fungus that outperforms existing bio-fuel production methods. Current bio-fuel processes are dependent on enzymes to convert cellulose into sugar before microbes are used to ferment the sugar into ethanol. Gliocladium roseum, the newly-found hungry fungus, inhabits in certain Patagonia rainforest trees. It feeds on cellulose to produce hydrocarbons called “myco-diesel.” With G. roseum, you skip the the sugar conversion and fermentation process. If this process can be commercialized, it could contribute to making bio-diesel a long-term viable alternative to pumping crude out of the earth. If not, not.

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13 Comments on “Fuel-Making Fungus. Ew....”


  • avatar
    AG

    I always knew using fungus and algae were a better, more carbon neutral way of producing fuels than giving billions in subsidies to corn farmers in Iowa.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    if this pans out, I fear Archer Daniels Midlands will manage it that corn continues to be the feedstock used.

  • avatar

    Odd… things never look that appealing when I’m pumping home brew BioDiesel into my TDI.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    if this pans out, I fear Archer Daniels Midlands will manage it that corn continues to be the feedstock used.

    Yes, but making sure that every acre of biodiverse forest is burned to the ground in favour of genetically homogenous corn fields. ADM and Monsanto make Exxon look like the Sierra Club.

  • avatar
    Casual Observer

    Fungi are people too! Why are we kidnapping them from their Patagonia paradise to do our dirty work for us?

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    except that the rain forests where it grows were leveled one day last week to grow more corn for ethanl.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Move over King Midas, a fungus which turns everything it touches into oil is more valuable than your old golden parlor trick!

  • avatar
    shaker

    …and it makes a DELICIOUS GRAVY!

  • avatar
    Wolven

    Since we already have shitloads of Natural Gas, why don’t we just use it?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Since we already have shitloads of Natural Gas, why don’t we just use it?

    Several reasons. Natural gas:
    * Isn’t as energy-dense
    * Is very difficult to store. You give up a lot of trunk space for that tank,
    * Is more prone to accidental ignition. You can (and I’ve tried) put a lit match out by submerging it in gasoline. You absolutely cannot do that with CNG
    * Is very difficult to dispense. Commercial systems are slow and expensive. Home systems like Phill are cheaper, but agnozingly slow (like, “eight hours to fill a tank” slow)
    * Requires a more expensive distribution system
    * Is not a viable option for many engines without a redesign. It’s especially ill-suited to small-displacements.

    I like CNG/LPG: it burns very clean, but it’s not really suited to use outside certain circumstances. It also fails to address the unlocked carbon issue. The reason this fungus is a good thing is that it produces a fuel that solves most of these issues and doesn’t release previously-locked carbon into the atmosphere.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    Hot hippy-chick has the right idea.

    Seriously, this is an excellent development in the world of renewable fuels! Leave it to the scientists to make the fungus more efficient and productive (like they’ve done with cows and milk production) and this is a winner all around. I’ve got to find out more, and where can I invest?

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    psarhjinian – you are rightish about CNG, wrong about LPG. An OEM LPG installation, using a tank that fits in place of the gasoline tank, will typically give you 2/3 -3/4 of the range of the gasoline vehicle. Emissions can be better, power is typically down by 10% because the gas displaces air in the charge, but that disadvantage will be removed when we go to direct injection, which will happen in the next five years I think. The octane rating is higher so down the track you could see better power with LPG.

    LPG is a pretty sensible fuel, it is popular in Australia. Probably half of urban service stations carry it. Refueling takes longer than a gasoline car, but not much.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    It’s likely a good idea, but what did they make all the fuel cans lined up behind her out of? Soy?

    Also, the problem with NG is that when you drill, you often find oil instead. The NG used to be considered an undesirable byproduct in many foreign sites because the cost to make the pipeline was too high. They just burn it off.

    It will be interesting to see what $50 oil does to NG. I am still thinking it’s closer to $80 by summer though.


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