Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fungas Fuels?

Fungal Fuel... could it be true? A recent MSNBC article suggests that researchers may have stumbled upon a newfound Fungus that can produce Biofuels better and more efficiently than any known method.

The report suggests that the fungus is "so good at turning plant matter into fuel that researchers say... [it] calls into question the whole theory of how crude oil was made by nature in the first place." The fungus' raw potential for converting plant matter into biofuels suggests that the fungus could be used to convert billions of acres of farmland into the raw material for biofuels. Not only is this highly effective, but it also helps us avoid some of the harmful side-effects of growing massive amounts of Corn and Switchgrass which both have adverse effects on soil and land trade-off.

The organism, named Gliocladium roseum, researchers find very interesting...

" "This is the only organism that has ever been shown to produce such an important combination of fuel substances," said researcher Gary Strobel from Montana State University. "The fungus can even make these diesel compounds from cellulose, which would make it a better source of biofuel than anything we use at the moment.""

The article goes on to suggest that this fungus might have been responsible for helping creating fossil fuels in the first place..

""The accepted theory is that crude oil, which is used to make diesel, is formed from the remains of dead plants and animals that have been exposed to heat and pressure for millions of years," Strobel said. "If fungi like this are producing myco-diesel all over the rainforest, they may have contributed to the formation of fossil fuels." "


The Archreactor said...

Much research has been done in the area of finding new fuel resources. More advertised is the use of algae as a fuel source but it is not suprising to finally come upon a fugal method of fuel production.
The article summary points out that this fugus may be responsible for ancient fossil fuel production. One question I pose is whether or not the fungus can be engineered to produce a "cleaner" fuel than current fossil fuel products. If it can and be as effecient as stated in the article summary than its a large positve. If not then its seemingly a waste of time even it it proved efficient because it would be doing just as much damage. Another point is what else besides fuel does the fungus produce. Does it for instance release nitrates or carbon emissions (as it is a decomposer)which could cause damage to the soil and atmosphere? Or could the decomposition of organic matter also be used to produce a fuel source such as methane or other natural gases currently used?

Meghan Croxton said...

We are in constant need of more efficient ways of producing biofuels, so if researchers find the production of fungi to be eco-friendly then by all means produce it.
Many questions should be looked at before considering its production to determine its efficiency compared to other resources.
The article by Robert Roy Britt suggests the newfound fungus in the Ulmo tree can make biofuel more efficiently than any other known method. If this were to be produced, would it be genetically created in laboratories or would it be extracted from the trees?
Another major issue is the environmental impact of the fungi. How long does it take for the fungi to grow and does it harm or destroy the environment? What are the effects of turning it into biofuels?
I think using the fungi in moderation would potentially do well for the environment but not completely switch to the one resource. If we stop using the wastes of plants to break down and create into fuel then we will have excess plant wastes. I think we should continue our methods of using plant wastes and other resources to create fuel but to a less extreme and use the fungi for the remainder needed.

Timothy Zhou said...

The idea of using hydrocarbon fuels from fungus seems to be an interesting idea, especially since it has changed the way scientists believe fossil fuels may have been created, but there's one major flaw in the production of fuels through Fungi--it doesn't solve the carbon emissions problem.

Fungi doesn't use photosynthesis like plants do. The major problem with fossil fuels is the carbon emissions generated--believed to be the leading cause of global warming. At least with biofuels made from plants, plants use photosynthesis to capture some of the carbon dioxide from the air. With fungus, you produce more fuel, but unless paired with some sort of carbon sequestration system, you won't be able to stabilize our CO2 emissions. While unable to solve the global warming problem on its own, Fungus does have potential to be a solution if paired with methods of reducing CO2 emissions.