February 24, 2006

Sustainable, Renewable Energy from Bugs

The fuel in your foundation

WHY DRILL IN THE ARCTIC when you can drill into the DNA of termites for future fuels?

Tapping Bushes and Bugs to Fuel Our Energy Future

Another target of JGI's bioenergy efforts is the termite, which is capable of cranking out two liters of hydrogen from fermenting just one sheet of paper, making it one of the planet's most efficient bioreactors. Termites accomplish this by exploiting the metabolic capabilities of about 200 different species of microbes that inhabit their hindguts.

"Termites have spread throughout the world and play a critical role in recycling wooden biomass," Rubin said. "They are so successful in eating our houses from underneath us that they cause more than $1 billion in damage in the United States annually."

"It's not as if we are going to put termites in our tank, but if we can harness the termite microbe enzymes that break down lignocellulose and make hydrogen, we may end up with a commercially viable process," Hugenholtz said.

Posted by Vanderleun at February 24, 2006 6:56 AM
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