Panda ‘fuel’ could power fleets

Something for the weekend …

Employers with a strong focus on their corporate social responsibility profile and environmental initiatives might soon be able to provide faeces-fuelled fleets.

In Memphis, a pair of pandas are donating their waste to scientific research in the development of biofuels.

Professor Ashli Brown, a scientist at Mississippi State University, has identified 40 microbes living in the guts of giant pandas that could make biofuel production from plant waste easier and cheaper.

She said: “One of the most expensive processes in making biofuels is the pre-treatment, where sugar polymers are chemically treated so that they can be used to make ethanol or oil.

“If you can insert a microbe that does that naturally and efficiently, production costs for alternative fuels would be cut tremendously.”

The panda fuel could be welcome news to employers since, from October 2013, UK-quoted companies will have to report their greenhouse gas emissions in their annual accounts, including what actions they plan to take to reduce their carbon footprint.

Although pandas, and their excrement, are not readily accessible here in the UK, the prevalence of cow and sheep dung across the country could prove useful to science.