A tree fungus that grows only in the Patagonian rainforest has been found to naturally produce a mixture of chemicals that is virtually indistinguishable from diesel.
According to the American scientists at Montana State University who made the discovery, ‘mycodiesel’ is a fungus-derived biofuel that can be pumped directly into an existing diesel car without the need for modification.
A spokesperson for the Environmental Transport Association (ETA) said: “It will be a little time before we are filling our cars at the garden centre rather than the petrol station, but the potential of this unexpected discovery is huge. A commercially-produced Mycodiesel might solve many of the problems associated with current biofuels.”
The discovery will now lead to a pilot study to determine the costs and benefits of commercial production.
Many simple organisms produce chemicals similar to those in transport fuel, but the Gliocladium roseum ‘diesel fungus’ offers:
A particularly high energy potential
An ability to feed on the organic waste that is currently discarded, such as stalks and sawdust
A step towards second-generation biofuels based on fibrous non-food plants which could be grown without displacing other crops and raising food prices
The problem with biofuel
The European Union has set biofuel targets of 10% by 2020, but this will exacerbate the problem of deforestation as land is cleared to produce the food crops such as corn, rapeseed, palm and soya with which current biofuels are made.
|The impact of deforeatation||…at a glance|
|Philippine archipelago forests||90% lost|
|Madagascar rainforests||95% lost|
|Brazilian Mata Atlântica forest||90-95% lost|
|Overall impact||tropical deforestation contributes around 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions – similar to the amount generated by America and China.|