Will It Result In A Fuel That Never Forgets?

Posted on April 18, 2007

Scientists in the Netherlands said they have discovered a fungus in elephant dung that will help them break down fibers and wood into biofuel.

Ethanol manufacturers currently extract sugars from crops like grains and sugar beets, but some are developing technologies to extract energy from fiber such as wheat bran, straw or wood. Scientists working for Royal Nedalco, the Delft University of Technology and Bird Engineering said they have found a fungus in elephant dung that helped them produce a yeast which can efficiently ferment wood sugars. "We really see this as a technical breakthrough," Mark Woldberg, a business development manager for Royal Nedalco, a Dutch alcohol maker, told a biofuels conference.

Production based on the new method can start at the firm's plant in Sas van Gent in 2009, though it will take longer for most of the new feedstocks to become commercially viable. "For wheat residues we believe we can be cost competitive in quite a short time - I've mentioned five years," Woldberg said. "Converting wood into ethanol will take some more time."