Wood-Eating Gribble Could Provide Low-Cost Biofuel From Wood And Straw Fiber

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Eco Factor: Gribble turns abundant wood into biofuel.

Researchers at the University of York in Britain have identified the potential of wood-eating gribble to cheaply convert abundant wood and straw fiber into biofuel. For centuries the gribble has been known to eat holes in ships, docks and piers, but the unique capability of the bug to digest raw wood holds promise of enzymes that can turn wood into sugars, which can then be converted into ethanol.

The current process to produce cellulosic ethanol requires energy-intensive plasma gasification techniques that involve the use of toxic chemicals. However, the gut of the gribble has some pretty amazing enzymes that can replicate the process without consuming electricity. The research team is trying to produce similar enzymes that all by themselves can produce ecologically sound ethanol from wood.

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