I was highly amused to read a report that panda poop may become very important to the biofuels industry. CBS Denver reports:
It turns out panda droppings could solve one of the major hurdles to producing biofuels.
. . .
“It’s probably the most pleasant fecal material to actually work with,” Dr. Ashli Brown said.
Brown and grad student Candace Williams discovered something amazing in panda excrement. They analyzed the fresh feces of bamboo-eating pandas at the Memphis Zoo. They found microbes in panda droppings break down super-tough plant materials — grasses, corn stalks and wood chips.
Giant pandas at Washington Zoo (image courtesy of Wikipedia)
“Once you have the bacteria you can grow them outside of the intestinal track of the panda,” Brown said.
Eventually the scientists want to try engineering the digestive enzymes on a large scale so plant waste could be used to make biofuels, instead of relying on food crops like corn.
. . .
“There is a future in feces. As you know a lot of animals produce a lot of waste and taking that resource and putting it in something to create a clean renewable energy is an exciting process,” Jennifer Hale with the Denver Zoo said.
There's more at the link.
Y'know, panda bears are all very well, but they're a bit exotic, aren't they? How about using our native fauna to produce the same result? For that matter, we could match the animal and the end user of the product to one another.
- Winter driving = polar bear biofuel
- Inner-city driving = black bear biofuel
- Redneck driving = grizzly bear biofuel
- And, according to Miss D., members of the US Congress and Senate should use Yogi Bear biofuel, "because they can't keep their hands off everyone else's pic-a-nic baskets!"
I know, I know . . . I mustn't give up my day job!