Last month in May 5th 2015, Washington State University researchers discovered a new, innovative way to produce jet fuel from a commonly found black fungi located in decaying leaves, soil, and rotting fruit.
The amazing person leading this project is Birgitte Ahring who is also a distinguished professor of the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory at WSU (pictured above on the right).
The fungus produced the most hydrocarbons on a diet of oatmeal but also created them by eating wheat straw or the non-edible leftovers from corn production, making this even more efficient.
According to the WSU webpage, fungi have been of interest in the past decade for the creation of biofuel production since they are the key producers of enzymes that are necessary for converting biomass sugars. Unfortunately, according to Birgitte, fungi are complex organisms that are hard to understand and work with.
"Utilizing fungi for hydrocarbon and biofuel production is better than other methods because they do the work themselves." Fungi are suspected to produce hydrocarbons as a protective mechanism when dealing with bacteria.
Researchers are now focused on optimizing the fungi's hydrocarbon production and improve biochemical pathways via genetic engineering.
To read more, visit the WSU news site to learn more about this promising opportunity!