Researchers from the Memphis Zoo recently completed a year-long study on the glories of panda poop. Their shocking conclusion? It breaks down plant fibers so efficiently that it could be used to turn organic waste into biofuel. Here’s the story:
The microbes in the feces of giant pandas break down super-tough plant material in grass, corn stalks and wood chips, the researchers reported Monday at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Denver. If the technique works on a large scale, inedible plants and plant waste could be used as biofuels instead of edible corn.
Eventually, say the researchers, digestive enzymes found in panda poop will be engineered and set loose on things like corn stalks and wood chips, turning them into simple sugars and then biofuel.With conventional biofuels and the subsidies that they require wreaking havoc all over the world, unconventional biofuels (using the normally indigestible cellulose that panda microbes attack) may be the best hope that renewable fuels can contribute to the world’s energy needs. This is good news for the panda lobby; “green jobs” in the panda breeding business may be only a few hundred millions of subsidy dollars away.