Best alcohol news since beer was invented

One of the cleanest burning fuels we have is ethanol. But how to make it in large quantities? Currently most biofuel requires a costly two-step process. For example, corn is turned into glucose, which in turn must be fermented into alcohol. Like distilling a liquor to fuel your car.

Research at the University of Rochester promises to remove one step from bio waste to ethanol. The tiny hero of this story is a bacterium named C. thermocellum. It has the ability to take woods chips or grass clippings and digest them, producing ethanol directly.

Now Rochester's research is focusing on how to get these little guys to use their triggering genes to produce more of the potent enzymes that enable the grass-to-ethanol process, and then make it happen faster. When all that Ikea furniture gets tiresome, just feed it to thermocellum, then pump it into your car.

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    Harry Fuller escaped from television work to be executive editor at CNET News.com.

     

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