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Fungus Fuel

Fill your gas tank with fungus fuel? It sounds far-fetched, but it could be a promising alternative to fossil fuel. A Montana State University professor has found a fungus from the Patagonia rainforest that produces a new type of diesel fuel. Other simple organisms such as algae have been known to make chemicals similar to hydrocarbons in transport fuel, but this fungus could do even better than that.

Emeritus plant pathologist Gary Strobel, who 15 years ago discovered the fungus that contained the anticancer drug Taxol, found that this new discovery, called Gliocladium roseum, is capable of producing gases. Further testing of the only for you where to get viagra cheap fungus revealed a number of compounds normally associated with diesel fuel, which is obtained from crude oil. The initial observations of the fungus' output, which Prof. Strobel calls “myco-diesel” were published in this month's issue of Microbiology. The abstract can be read here.

The gas composition of G. roseum included hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon derivatives. A spoonful of the stuff could run a diesel engine with further refining or modifications to it. “The results were totally unexpected and very exciting,” says Prof. Strobel. “Almost every hair on my arms stood on end.”

Prof. Strobel travels the world looking for plants that may contain beneficial microbes and first collected a variety of specimens, including the G. roseum, from the Patagonia rainforest in 2002. He kept the G. roseum in storage until last year when he finally had time to work on it. While he hopes that myco-diesel could be an option for those seeking alternatives to other biofuels like ethanol, the big question remains of mexico viagra whether the microbe can be scaled up to commercial levels.

The findings have led Strobel to even speculate that organisms such as G. roseum may be responsible for the world’s crude oil deposits. This is quite a departure from the traditional theory – that oil is only produced when decaying organic matter is subjected to pressure and millions of years. An intriguing possibility, but for the time being scientists have their hands full trying to figure out how to turn these volatile, oily vapors into biofuel.

Via NPR, The Guardian, Montana State University

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Comments (26)Add Comment
written by HankS, November 05, 2008
I hope they can scale this up and the fungus grows fast enough to realistically keep up with demand.

Question; so bio fuels (hope I'm using the canadain online pharmacies viagra term correctly) like this obviously are mostly carbon neutral, excluding the refinement process. But what about other pollutants that burning these fuels emit - do those also get reused in the growth process of the bio source, or are they still floating around?
written by ted rendell, November 05, 2008
biofuel production is not carbon-neutral. all plants produce CO2 in cellular respiration as well as O2 in photosynthesis; and fungi, which do not photosynthesize, do not offset their CO2 production with O2 production at all.
Fungus fuel
written by Ken, November 05, 2008
Who cares about offsets, this bio fuel will be just like the rest. You'll get about 70% of the energy that a liter of fossil diesel delivers. So it will cost you 30% more to drive anywhere and the oil companies will make a killing. It's the same ol' same ol. Plus you'll still be polluting the air. Get a grip folks, bio fuels are an idiots dream. :P
Plain wrong
written by Wintermute, November 05, 2008
Enough with these fuel alternatives, we don't need anymore energy sources from BURNING something, either coal, or diesel, or so called bio fuel or this new mycofuel. This is so primitive in the age of silicon.
We need to run things on ELECTRICITY, produced from chemical reactions like the electrolyse in the fuel cell , the far-fetched 'cold fusion' (chemical fusion), or the real life equivalent of Iron Man's ARC : the WB-7 fusion device (try google it). We need high-efficiency, long lasting, cost saving solar cells, windmills, batteries...
I hope that reading this, people will start realizing how anachronic combustion technologies are.
written by HankS, November 05, 2008
@Ted, good to know, but other bio fuels DO offset carbon, so my original question is still relevant.

I agree that other non combustible sources would be ideal, but isn't it good to have options, while waiting for those sources to become commercial?
written by Tom, November 05, 2008
Ken and purchasing cialis with next day delivery Wintermute overlook an important fact. Hydrocarbons are one of the most concentrated forms of viagra rx energy we know of. Right now, there is no reasonable way to store 300 miles worth of of hydrogen or electrical energy for a vehicle to carry a family of four, let alone cargo. We are making progress on batteries that can store energy in more concentrated form, but there are problems. Note the articles on laptop batteries that catch on fire or suddenly start to expand so that they don't fit into the best quality levitra buy viagra us computer anymore.

Wintermute, get over the aversion to burning. It's just a chemical reaction, not that different than what happens in a fuel cell.

If you control emissions and use carbon that is part of the current carbon cycle rather than fossil carbon, you *still* have a carbon neutral process.

If you think this is a bad idea, tell me how you expect to run a train engine or semi truck on hydrogen or fuel cells
the answer?
written by kelly, November 05, 2008
with proper filtration, almost any fuel can be used for commercial purposes. Why not use a renewable resource, more power to you Mr. Strobel I wish you success in your venture. What if the fungus were combined with landfill waste? maybe you've found our answer.
written by Science Teacher, November 05, 2008
I did a presentation on Taxol, the drug derived from the bark of a tree. The trees are very limited and are now being artificially reproduced, showing that resources are limited. This was some of his work.

Considering the fungus, there also may be a limit. Fungus decomposes natural waste. So, there might be a limit on the waste. I guess the byproduct of this is the "fuel" we are talking about. There is currently no way to offset CO2 emissions, only to lower them. Can this gas from the fungus not be harmful to the environment? They do contain hydrocarbons, which is found in petroleum gas as well. I think the main idea here is how does this fungus contribute to making fossil fuels and how can we study its metabolism to improve our understanding of more natural and safe energy.
written by reman, November 05, 2008
BUT WE would grow it in the Americas and keep our money around this part of the world... ;D ;D
They do use plant carbon
written by Chris, November 05, 2008
These fungi break down plant material to form hydrocarbons. The plant material would otherwise rot and release methane and/or carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The fungus is a way to process the cellulose of plants into a fuel rather than the glucose or fructose in them. Since there's a lot more cellulose in most plants than sugars, this is both less likely to compete with human food sources and buy cheapest cialis potentially a much better producer of usable energy per plant.
written by Patrick Dugan, November 05, 2008
Patagonia does not have any rainforests, it is in a temperate zone. It does however, have forests.
There are no rainforests in Patagonia!
written by Marcos Carot Collins, November 05, 2008

There are no rainforests in Patagonia!! Most of the Patagonia is a cold desert, and near the mountains there are forests, but not rainforests.


Rainforests don't have to be tropical...
written by Steve Treloar, November 06, 2008
I have no idea about Patagonia but would like to add that rainforests are not confined exclusively to tropical areas. South eastern Australia has some beautiful temperate rainforests, some in areas as cold as a mother in laws kiss. :)
Combustion aversion follow-up
written by Wintermute, November 06, 2008
@ Tom
Indeed combustion is a chemical reaction. But a really, really primitive one. When did Humanity discovered how to start a fire ? Some 500000, 800000 years ago ? Not our newest discovery... Plus harnessing energy from burning something is truly inefficient. There's no comparison to getting energy from the fabric of matter itself, as in the fusion process, but that's just an example.
My point is, if only a small fraction of what is currently used for oil exploration, refining techniques and other fossil energy investings (say a meagre billion dollar for a start) could be used for speeding up researches on solar cell efficiency (
, fuel cell efficiency (
, room temperature supra-conduction (lots of sources, google yourself), and boost research on more advanced concepts (like Bussard's device), our world would be a truly better place.
Like I said previously, I just want people to realize how paradoxal our technology is : one foot in the age of silicon, and another still firmly in the XIXth century.
I do own a car, running on diesel. And each time I turn the power on, the roaring of the engine, the fumes, the odor (No, my engine is fine, but it's just a combustion engine) all that remind me how low tech it is, while I could enjoy the gentle buzzing of my four wheels electric engines, no vibrations, no foul smell... sigh...
written by erichansa, November 06, 2008
Hopefully research and discoveries like this will continue to expand, as more and more people exist and have cars. But it would be nice to stay away from burning up MORE fuel into the air. Burn something that cleans up... is that even plausible?!
re: Combustion aversion followup
written by Tom, November 06, 2008
Wintermute, no argument about the usefull link viagra no prescription canada marginal benefit of the investments you mention. However, in the next, say, 25 years, those pieces of research are unlikely to have a significant effect on our transportation energy needs. Even if most commuter vehicles switch to hybrid or battery electric in the next 10 years, that leaves delivery trucks, long haul trucks and trains. The advantage of biodiesel is that it can be plugged into the existing transportation system, even if that system is in the process of being transformed.

The links you pointed me at are research papers that talk about research projects. Design processes and manufacturing processes take a long time. For an incremental discovery, maybe 2-3 years. For something like nanotube electrodes, likely 10 (my guess). I would expect that to have a pilot plant producing biodiesel using fungi would take 3-5 years, even without funding roadblocks.

wow, so many bad comments I don't know w
written by Casper, November 06, 2008
Ted Rendell gets the very definition of "carbon neutral" wrong. Ted, a bio fuel will be carbon neutral if the CO2 released by burning it is then taken back out of the atmosphere by carbon-fixing plants, which in turn are converted back to biodiesel (soybeans) or are themselves used as feedstocks for further conversion to biofuels (sugarcane or corn to ethanol or in the case of this fungus, to biodiesel). As long as the energy of the refining and processing of the biofuel comes from the biofuel or the waste products of the feedstock itself, then the fuel is truly carbon neutral. That's why corn isn;t so good but Brazilian ethanol from sugar cane is great. In Brazil they run the ethanol plants from burning the bagasse waste of sugarcane.

Carbon neutral just means you aren't increasing (or decreasing) the rate at which carbon (usually as CO2) is released into the atmosphere. In reality, carbon neutrality is good because it is assumed nature will eventually (millenia) re-absorb the "extra" carbon we put into the atmosphere by burning petroleum fuels over the past 100 years.

You are wrong to think of carbon neutrality in the context of biochemical oxygen evolution, it is strictly about the carbon cycle, not the canada cheap cialis oxygen cycle.
next: infrastructure
written by Casper, November 06, 2008
Many folks have also brought up the idea of replacing liquid transportation fuel with electricity. While it is potentially true that converting all our cars to electric would solve the problem of global CO2 emissions faster than conversion to biofuels would, there are very serious pragmatic and cost of levitra economic concerns to consider. The world has spent the past 100 years building an infrastructure around combustion and liquid fuels for transportation. This is far from trivial. I don't know if I even have the space here to explain every detail of the economics involved here, but for now let me just focus on aviation. You can't fly 747's on electric. The right ratio of energy density of batteries to weight will not exist for a very long time if ever. You can't run commercial trucking with electric the same way either. You'd either have to establish fast battery swapping stations (like propane tank exchange) at every truckstop or add railroads along every major interstate in the country. Lastly, even though commuters only rarely need to drive more than a single tank of gas (or battery charge) permits in a single day, most Americans will refuse to buy a car in which they could not do a road-trip without having the assurance that they'd be able to easily find places to quickly re-charge. Having to wait 4-8 hours to "fill-up" is something most Americans simply wouldn't tolerate, even if in reality they'd never drive that much in a single day anyway.

So the easiest and fastest solution to replacing petroleum consumption in this country is to stick with an alternative fuel that can fit into the existing infrastructure. Like it or not, that means biofuels. Biofuels are still subject to the same competition in price as petroleum fuels, and they are getting cheaper. Progress is being made on this front and its moving faster than you'd think. Ironically, higher gas prices make all alternative fuel development (electric or bio) move faster. The recent dip in petroleum prices is not a good thing from the perspective of alternative fuel development.
The Shift
written by Uncle B, November 06, 2008
Build a Toyota Prius with carbon fiber and advanced polymer composites to reduce weight, make it plug in, fuel it with bio diesel through a turbo diesel like VW has developed, and make it smaller!Get the levitra sale American public to embrace it, and the fuel crisis and oil import problem would be greatly reduced. The hardest part for all of us is getting out of our gas guzzling V-8 luxury cruisers, and squeezing into smaller poorer performing Eco-boxes. The great depression, now closing in over our heads will have to bruise our egos a great deal before we will arrive at valuing smaller, lighter stripped eco-boxes over what we have become accustomed to. similarly, respectably functional Eco-housing will be a hard pill to swallow for those raised with the expectation of McMansions. The depth, length and severity of the depression may cause the required paradigm shift. If it does not, we are doomed to a few rich and cialis philippines many poor, enslaved by a V-8 gas guzzler cult of the few, and some rich in McMansions with many in cardboard boxes on the streets paying , not literally but spiritually for the few. Obama, please protect us from vicious exploitive capitalism and help us avoid pride destroying socialism, find a middle path and restore America with fairer distribution of wealth, while avoiding Chinese slavery and the goods they tempt our destruction with. God, Heal America!
Carbon Neutral and Combustion vs Electri
written by Morgauo, November 06, 2008
To paraphrase the last post, this could be carbon neutral even though the fungus does nothing to remove carbon from the air, the wood or other foodstock which is grown to feed the fungus does. This is pretty much the same idea as calling Ethanol carbon neutral, the bacteria which produces the i use it info viagra Ethanol doesn't sink the carbon, the plant it "eats" does.

Now, for all these posts about electric vehicles being the answer and combustion engines being primitive.... Hopefully within a century or two you will be right. For now though get your heads out of the clouds.

If we switched to electric vehicles we would just be moving the polution to the power plants. Actually, the most likely result, the huge increase in power demands would cause the re-opening of older, less environmentaly friendly power plants and the cutting of corners at current and viagra order mail new ones. Anything to produce a volt and make a buck as demand plus prices for electricity would go sky high.

Then, we would fill our landfills with expensive, highly toxic batteries. Yay Electric!

First we need to upgrade the power grid while drasticaly improving our power storage tech. Sorry, fuel cells aren't practical yet. They have been just around the corner for what, 10, 15 years now. I wonder where they will be 10, 15 years from now?

And power generation... We could build more nuke plants... They produce less waste, though what they do produce is probably the nastiest stuff on earth. We could fix that by building breeder reactors. To bad that the breeder reactors could be easily retooled to produce nuclear weapons and we wouldn't know until the cities began disapearing.

Fusion was mentioned in a lot of posts. Smart people have been trying to make that work for how many decades? Sure, someday, maybe... But we need something now.

Things mentioned frequently elsewhere:

Giant lenses in orbit focusing sunlight on water to produce hydrogen... Sounds like a great bond movie! Or maybe Austin Powers! Come on!

Orbiting solar cells beaming microwave energy to collectors on the ground... Sounds like scifi again! What kind of magnetron tube would it take to channel that kind of power non-stop and not burn out within a reasonable amount of time to make it worth sending to orbit... Sounds like unobtanium all the way. Not to mention what would happen if it was moved off target "accidentally" or otherwise. Imagine a Bush like president running a country which produced it's power this way...

These are the kinds of leaps one must take to think we can switch to all electric. Sure, some of these technologies might actually be possible but they are not likely within the time that we need them by. BioFuels are probably the best hope within the lifetimes of the people alive today. Meanwhile we can keep striving towards something better that we can use another day.
Use Hot Air Energy
written by Brent Jones, November 06, 2008
Politicians and pundits are good at talking in circles.
written by Roberto, November 06, 2008
This fungus among us may just be our ticket to Shangrila.
Simple solutions
written by mark, November 10, 2008
@Casper: I believe there are simple solutions to the problem - Your comments about needed railways along major high ways are spot on - Rail is more efficient anyway so we should already be doing this.
As far as the problem with cars, electrify the highways so you can charge as you drive (fixing the battery swapping/slow charing problem) - Setup an auto drive system and you also eliminate a large portion of accidents.
I don't believe this would actually be all that costly to roll out as roads were resurfaced (at least the wow it's great cialis pharmacy in india power part of it).
written by Claudia Groposo, November 13, 2008
I would like to understand more about the Gliocladium roseum metabolism, why it produces such hydrocarbons and which utilities has to the fungus. Is there some publication talking about?
written by Freeflydude, November 13, 2008
Biofuels are cleaner only because they emit no "new" carbon, unlike oil which was buried underground and adds new carbon to the atmosphere. Even still we don't need any carbon producing fuels. I have always believed that Hydrogen is the answer. It's only byproduct is water and i use it cialis sales in canada heat so no carbon added to the cycle. The only problem we have to figure out is how to produce and store the stuff. I think that's possible if we at least finance the research to improve or find new technologies for hydrogen production/storage.
written by other, March 19, 2010
read somewhere that algae can be used to create oil to run cars and such. Apparently, a algae plant 1/10 the size of New Mexico could produce enough oil to meet America's demands. Sounds promising...

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