It was recently discovered that a fungus found in the Patagonian Rain Forest in South America could potentially be used to fuel vehicles in the future. Yes, you heard right – Patagonian fungus, the next biofuel.
Researchers claim that the fungus, Gliocladium roseum, has the ability to produce a plethora of unique combinations of hydrogen and carbon molecules unlike any organism in the world, and the product is remarkably similar to the diesel we use to fuel our cars. And, according to a recently published issue of Microbiology, scientists are currently working to develop its fuel producing potential. So, someday, we might be filling up our cars tanks with hydrocarbons derived from fungus instead of fossil fuel!
The fungus is reported to hold several properties that far exceed current biofuel sources. Current biofuel sources have to refined before being converted into biofuel, a painstaking and not always environmentally friendly process. The fungus has a clear advantage over these biofuels because it produces “myco-diesel” directly from cellulose. The shortened production process means a reduction in costs and carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
Because current biofuels are derived mostly from food crops that are required to be grown and harvested on farmland, they have a substantial impact on food supply and prices. The fungus, however, can be grown in factories, eliminating any such impacts. Oddly enough, this remarkable discovery was the result of serendipity. Dr. Gary Strobel, a professor at Montana State University, first collected the fungus years before. It was after sophisticated examination that he unexpectedly discovered its unique “myco-diesel” properties. Funny how some of our greatest discoveries are unintentional. Perhaps one day, the fungus will sit right up there next to the telephone or penicillin as one of the most useful discoveries made by accident.