Information Overload: Newspapers as a fuel source?

Sept. 3, 2011 at 4:03 a.m.

By C.J. Castillo

We hear this all the time, newspapers are on their way out. Who wants to get their hands covered in newspaper print when you can find what you need online?

Think newspapers are soon going to be a thing of the past? Imagine then, if the very paper you are reading this from, if you are reading the print version of this newspaper, could fuel your car one day. Crazy talk, you say? No. It's science!

According to a statement from Tulane University, scientists have discovered a new strain of bacteria, TU-103 that can use "paper to produce butanol, a biofuel that can serve as a substitute for gasoline." Scientists are using old editions of the New Orleans Times Picayune for testing and have reported success with their methods. A patent is pending on the process.

Newspapers being used as a source of fuel!

"Most important about this discovery is TU-103's ability to produce butanol directly from cellulose," said David Mullin, associate professor in Tulane's Department of Cell and Molecular Biology.

In case you were wondering, TU-103 is believed to be the first bacterial strain from nature that produces butanol directly from cellulose. If you remember anything from biology class, cellulose is something that can be found in all green plants, and is the most common organic compound on Earth.

Butanol has the ability to fuel automobiles without the need to make any modifications to the engine. In addition, butanol is less corrosive, could improve mileage and has more energy than ethanol.

Another thing that is of note about this discovery, when compared to gasoline, is the possibility of savings on the price per gallon of butanol and the reduction of smog and carbon dioxide emissions.

So there you go. Feel free to continue buying newspapers, then stockpiling them up for future fuel needs.

Oh, and for those of you reading this online, don't worry. We still like you. Now go out and buy a paper, will ya?

CJ Castillo writes about geeky stuff for the Victoria Advocate. You can contact her at Please send all correspondence c/o Victoria Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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