30 Aug '11, 4am

Panda Poop May Hold Key to Major Breakthrough in Biofuels

Until recently, the production of biofuels was thought to require specific types of easily compostable organic matter, like from corn and sugar cane, but soon a wider variety of raw plant material could be used as well -- thanks to the stuff in panda poop. Since a panda's diet is composed almost entirely of bamboo stalks, they've developed digestive systems rich in particularly potent bacterial flora to help break down that tough, fibrous cellulose. If those bacteria could be harvested, scientists say that more common organic material, such as grass, wood chips and crop waste, could be used to produce cheaper biofuels. "Who would have guessed that 'panda poop' might help solve one of the major hurdles to producing biofuels, which is optimizing the breakdown of the raw plant materials used to make the fuels?" said study co-author Ashli Brown, Ph.D. "We hope our research wil...

Full article: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/08/panda-poop-may-ho...

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