Process Uses Community of Microbes to Turn Waste Plants Into Better Biofuel


By combining the fungus Trichoderma reesei and genetically modified E. coli, Michigan Engineering professor Nina Lin has developed a way to turn corn stalks and leaves into improved biofuel. The process breaks down waste plant materials into a sugar, which is then turned into isobutanol. Lin and her team argue that their isobutanol could be better than ethanol and other biofuels because it can be dropped into the fuel tank or pipeline without any disruption or corrosion. Gallon for gallon, isobutanol also gives off 82 percent of the heat energy gasoline provides when burned - compared to ethanol's 67 percent.