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Fungi from goats' guts could lead to better biofuels

 
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Mark



Joined: 13 Dec 2007
Posts: 882
Location: NW England

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 5:57 pm    Post subject: Fungi from goats' guts could lead to better biofuels Reply with quote

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35612554

The legendary abilities of goats and sheep to digest a wide range of inedible materials could help scientists produce cheaper biofuels. Researchers say fungi from the stomachs of these animals produce flexible enzymes that can break down a wide variety of plant materials. The scientists say that in tests, the fungi performed as well as the best engineered attempts from industry. The study has been published in the journal, Science.

Fuel from food
Environmentalists have long criticised the current generation of biofuels that are produced from crops, such as maize, as they believe that using land for fuel instead of food drives up prices and impacts the poor. Researchers have had some success making usable fuel from food and animal waste. But, so far, the ability to efficiently use the vast majority of cheap, waste organic material has eluded them. The problem with turning wood chips and grasses into fuel is the matrix of complex molecules found in the cell walls of these tough materials. Industrial attempts to break these down into the type of sugars that can be refined for fuel often require preheating or treatment with chemicals, which add to the complexity and the cost. To solve the problem, researchers have turned to the well-known abilities of goats and sheep to digest almost anything they eat.

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