Camlawrie’s Weblog

The New Diesel Fuel… From Fungi?
None of the following are my words.  It is an article I found quite accidentally about a cool new source that has the potential to be used as a source for diesel fuel.
By Justin Couture, Sympatico / MSN Autos

Money might not grow on trees, but diesel could according to Gary Strobel, a professor at Montana State University.

Strobel discovered that fungi growing in the Patagonian forests of South America are capable of producing gaseous diesel. The fungus, G. roseum grows on the Ulmo tree, and produces toxic fumes used to kill off competing species of fungus. Upon closer study, Strobel discovered that these fumes are “virtually identical” in structure to diesel. In fact, it’s a sufficiently close match that he claims the fumes would be adequate to power a diesel engine.

What makes the fungus a potential source for diesel is that the fungus is able to turn cellulose – the fibres in plant material – directly into diesel. This skips the fermentation process that normally occurs during the production of biodiesel, saving time and money. While G. roseum is found on the Ulmo tree in the wild, it could create fuel on any form of cellulose, be it trees, wood, sawdust or leftover husks after harvests.

Given its potential as a truly renewable source of energy, this fungus is certain to be a hot topic in the coming months and years.

Coutoure, J.  The New Diesel Fuel… From Fungi?  Sympatico/MSN autos.  Nov. 10, 2008.  Accessed Nov. 12, 2008.


We’re Running Out of Corn!
September 22, 2008, 11:33 am
Filed under: All, Blog Posts for Class | Tags: , ,

My Grandfather was a grain and feed dealer.  He owned a feed mill in Markham just north of Toronto, Ontario.  From what I understand he was a Shur-Gain and Purina dealer.  Despite having crop agriculture of some form in my family history I know virtually nothing about the economy of crops, in particular cash crops.  From working in a greenhouse, the physical act of planting a seed and tending it until it is an adult plant is hardly rocket science.  But, once harvesting begins, a discussion in plain English becomes gibberish to my ears.  On the Ontario Farmer website one of the top stories was one about corn yields and crop acreage.  After reading it several times, I think the main idea of the article was that the demand for corn was under-predicted and to make things worse, yields are expected to be low this harvesting season.  As a result, next year more corn will need to be planted on limited acres of land to maintain stock-to-use ratios.  Right on, things are starting to make some sense.  But, who cares? Is the world going to run out of corn syrup to sweeten up our Twinkies with?  Maybe I’m missing the point, but this really seems to have no impact on me as a consumer.  Is it the end of the world if we have to use a bit of the stockpile to keep everyone happy?  Are we spreading the corn loving too thin by allowing it to be diverted away from feeding North America when we put it towards other uses such as bio-fuel research?  Now that’s something to think about and look into so I can write about it later.