Turning Waste into Energy

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Cows and other large herbivores that evolved to graze on grasses and other woody forage have the ability to “unlock” the energy contained in plant cellulose and convert it to sugar. By understanding and cultivating the microbes that these animals have in their digestive systems, similar processes could be used to create fuels and chemicals from agricultural waste rather than from fossil fuels.

Chemical engineer Michelle O'Malley discusses her work to do just that in this video from UC Santa Barbara's ongoing "Research in 60 Seconds" series.

Watch the video.

Animation showing the microbes found in bovine digestive tracts that allow them to unlock the energy in cellulose.

Microbes that are found in bovine digestive tractsand allow the animals to "unlock" the energy in cellulose may be applicable to developing clean fuels.