Biofuel that grows on trees

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.

Fungus diesel

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.

Related articles:
Flying on algae blooms
Biofuel targets will stay
Biofuel and African lands

What is the ETA?
The ETA is a not-for-profit ethical organisation providing motorists and cyclists with carbon-neutral breakdown cover and insurance products (see below)

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