Newspapers Are Still Good For Something: Fueling Your Car

Newspapers are hot.
Newspapers are hot.
Christopher Hawkins

You laugh at the Tribune Co.'s attempts to make the transition from print to the new era? How dare you snicker at the corporate parent of the Los Angeles Times for its failed attempts to draw-in young readers with weekly print tabloids and, now, with an iPad killer in a market that even Hewlett-Packard has shied away from.

How dare you.

By sticking to their old ways, the suits and MBA's that seemed to have ruined the business in the last two decades might have unwittingly saved it:

That's because newsprint is the new biofuel. Literally. Maybe.

Researchers at Tulane University have discovered a bacterial strain, called TU-103, that can turn old newsprint into butanol, a substitute for gas.

So keep churning out that dead-tree gold, Tribune Co. It's good for the environment, and somebody might actually read it before putting it in their gas tank.

Interestingly, the nerds at Tulane actually first found TU-103 in "animal droppings." It was certainly natural of them to scratch their chins and say, 'Hmm, if this is in shit, it must therefore also be in newspapers."

We would have never thought of that. Genius.

What's really cool about this particular news-doody is that you can use it your regular-gas car now: With corn-based ethanol, you've got to have a special motor that would accept it.

Tulane researcher David Mullin:

This discovery could reduce the cost to produce bio-butanol. In addition to possible savings on the price per gallon, as a fuel, bio-butanol produced from cellulose would dramatically reduce carbon dioxide and smog emissions in comparison to gasoline, and have a positive impact on landfill waste.

Long live the newspaper.

[@dennisjromero/djromero@laweekly.com]


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