Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Panda Poo Yields Key To Cheaper Biofuels

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the fuel-panda-makes-fuel dept.

Power 113

An anonymous reader writes "A new study unveiled at the American Chemical Society points to panda poop as a source of remarkably efficient enzyme-producing bacteria that are able to break down plant materials for cheaper and more efficient biofuel production. Inspired by the giant panda's voracious appetite for bamboo, scientists began to study the fecal matter of giant pandas at the Memphis Zoo. A year of samples indicated that the pandas have a unique ability to convert lignocellulose from plant matter into energy. In fact, gut bacteria of a giant panda can convert 95 percent of the plant's biomass into simple sugars."

cancel ×

113 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Efficient my ass (0, Flamebait)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264612)

So, let me get this straight. A panda has to eat 85 lbs. of bamboo a day just to laze around on its fat ass, only waking up occasionally to stare blankly at zoo patrons like some kind of ursine retard? These [wikipedia.org] are your super-efficient power plants?!? Come on, those pathetic creatures won't even reproduce without some zookeeper to show them where to put it and help them thrust. They're the Urkels [wikipedia.org] of the bear world.

So either bamboo contains almost no energy, or pandas are expending a *lot* of energy somewhere behind our backs. Personally, I think someone should be digging through Grizzly shit. At least *they* have the energy to occasionally maul some back-to-nature hippie.

Re:Efficient my ass (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264656)

It's not the panda that's efficient, it's the enzymes produced by the bacteria found in their gut. Apparently panda's like bamboo, but the enzymes themselves aren't as fussy.....

Re:Efficient my ass (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264696)

I think his point is that if the enzymes are so efficient, then what does the panda do with all that energy the enzymes produce?

Judging by the summary "shit it out" is one possible answer I suppose.

Re:Efficient my ass (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264748)

Looking at the average Panda, I'd say store most of it as fat. Anyway, even a small energy return might still be more efficient than digging up fossil fuels, smashing atoms or gathering sunbeams, given how quickly bamboo grows (so farming it for energy use could be a simple, even automated process) and how difficult/costly the other processes are.

Re:Efficient my ass (2)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264802)

Agreed, I think the speed with which bamboo grows is really key here, and if this offers a better way of harvesting it as a biofuel then great.

For those who aren't aware, bamboo has very high oil content and, given the right conditions, some species can grow literally upto a metre per day. That's much better than many other plant species harvested for biofuel!

Re: Up to a metre per day. (4, Informative)

LoyalOpposition (168041) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265008)

some species can grow literally upto a metre per day

While that's accurate, I think it would be misleading to allow it to stand without comment. Bamboo gather energy during the year and store it in their rhizomes. Then they use that energy during the growing season to sprout new shoots. It's these new shoots which may grow that quickly, but only during that season. Any culms from previous years are stuck at whatever height they grew to during their growing year.

What I've said is true of the seven species that I own. Of course there are hundreds of species, so others may exhibit other habits.

I don't own any panda, so I don't have any personal knowledge of their habits, but my understanding is that they eat bamboo leaves. It's the culms that may grow so quickly.

~Loyal

Re: Up to a metre per day. (1)

guabah (968691) | more than 3 years ago | (#37267744)

There are parts of the world where seasons are less of an impact in plant growth, especially within the tropics.

Re:Efficient my ass (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264974)

Food isn't only a source of energy. It's also a source of many other essential components (amino acids the animal cannot naturally make, important trace elements, etc).

It may need a lot of food, for contents other than energy.

Re:Efficient my ass (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265080)

Think of the panda as a bamboo chipper that's powered by chipped bamboo. I challenge anybody to make a machine that can do that.

Re:Efficient my ass (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265212)

Think of the panda as a bamboo chipper that's powered by chipped bamboo.

I see it as more of a logging operation.

Re:Efficient my ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265342)

Do I have to make it capable of reproducing from the same stock which it consumes?

That might be too much of a challenge.

Re:Efficient my ass (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265698)

Think of the panda as a bamboo chipper that's powered by chipped bamboo. I challenge anybody to make a machine that can do that.

That would be simple enough. Use a steam engine, power the steam engine with chipped bamboo to run your bamboo chipper.

Re:Efficient my ass (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264714)

Can != Does.

More specifically, their digestive tract is actually geared as a Carnivore's- therefore, even if it is that efficient, they're going to need to eat a damned lot of the stuff just to survive.

Re:Efficient my ass (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265826)

Pandas do eat birds and rodents on occassion, they are somewhat like gorillas in that regard, can be carnivorous and have the teeth and system for doing so.

Re:Efficient my ass (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264786)

How dare you speak ill of the Urkel!!!

Re:Efficient my ass (2)

ddd0004 (1984672) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264792)

Wow, forget this news story. The real news story is that there is a hardcore fundamentalist anti-panda faction in existence.

Re:Efficient my ass (0)

decoy256 (1335427) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264904)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1215188/Chris-Packham-Let-giant-pandas-die-out.html [dailymail.co.uk]

Pandas need to die... nature is screaming at us that they need to die. Why are we ignoring the obvious?

Although, thank goodness they were around long enough to give us some high-quality poo.

Re:Efficient my ass (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37264958)

This isn't as much of a joke as you think. The number of conservatives who point to the Panda as an example of an animal that is fit only to die is rather scarily high.

They show a prideful disdain for the Panda that I find to be rather demonstrative of their real attitude, which is of a Darwinian Socialist attitude that sees the weak as something fit to be crushed, not to be sheltered.

Kinda contradicts their purported Christian attitudes. Either that, or they have their own copy of the Bible where Jesus is replaced with John Galt.

Re:Efficient my ass (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265384)

The conservatives are partially correct. In the habitats we offer them Pandas are completely incapable of surviving without human assistance. They require insanely huge bamboo forests to sustain their pathetically wasteful lifestyle and slow reproduction.

But humans at least reduced those huge forests down to a point where they couldn't sustain a panda population, so IMO it's our responsibility to to keep them from going extinct.

It's like if a race of super-intelligent sea creatures flooded the earth except for a few microscopic little islands and found that humans couldn't survive on them or thrive in little under-water biodomes, then the conservative aqua-people argued that humans should just be allowed to go extinct since they're so sucky at surviving despite the best efforts by the aqua-people.

Re:Efficient my ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265184)

"Sorry to ruin your scoop, colbertkilledapanda.com!"

"All I can say is, I was drunk, I was hungry, and it was delicious!"

Pfft, you are just jealous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37264872)

You are just jealous. You wish you were cute and fuzzy and could live the panda lifestyle.

I wouldn't call them 'tards, I'd say they know how to work the system. I don't see anyone hand delivering hippie meat to Grizzlys.

Re:Pfft, you are just jealous (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#37268786)

No, I'm jealous of *Red* Pandas. *Giant* Pandas can suck my balls.

Re:Efficient my ass (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264876)

Pandas don't reproduce in captivity. Generally that's a good sign of depression. Laying around and being inactive all day is another sign of depression. Btw, your signature is hilarious.

Re:Efficient my ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37264912)

That Grizzly mostly eats things that have the absolute highest already-refined-by-other-organisms energy content. Meat, berries. Grizzlies eat like humans drill for oil. They don't produce the refined products, they simply consume from existing sources.

Pandas do both - refine and use what they refine. So they are going to show something much closer to the efficiency of the whole system, while the Grizzly shows only the last mile.

Seriously, comparing a dominant predator to a grazing animal? Yes, they're related, but even the usual grazing animals can't convert energy from grazing at a 95% conversion rate.

Re:Efficient my ass (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265390)

Pandas do both - refine and use what they refine.

I'd call eating starch-filled plants and converting the starch into a different form of energy is no different than say eating meat or raw sugar for that matter.

Really the only thing that produces energy from outside the environment are plants, that produce energy from the sun.

Re:Efficient *THEIR* ass (1)

alex67500 (1609333) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264942)

FTFY. I think that's what the article meant...

Re:Efficient my ass (1, Flamebait)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264948)

I'm... I'm having trouble with where to start here.

(1) Don't call them ursine retards. They are not ursine. Retard.
(2) Bamboo is not easy to digest for energy, as compared to a lot of other plants.
(3) Many animals need certain environment cues for mating, or they aren't interested. It has to do a lot with their native environment and what situations ensure optimal survival for the offspring and the mother. You might want to study this field called "evolution". It'll help explain this. We basically have trouble figuring out what these cues are. We really can't blame the pandas for that one.

Re:Efficient my ass (0)

tmarsh86 (896458) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265110)

I'm... I'm having trouble with where to start here.

(1) Don't call them ursine retards. They are not ursine. Retard. (2) Bamboo is not easy to digest for energy, as compared to a lot of other plants. (3) Many animals need certain environment cues for mating, or they aren't interested. It has to do a lot with their native environment and what situations ensure optimal survival for the offspring and the mother. You might want to study this field called "evolution". It'll help explain this. We basically have trouble figuring out what these cues are. We really can't blame the pandas for that one.

Giant Pandas(Ailuropoda melanoleuca) are bears, and, therefore they are ursine. Retard.

Re:Efficient my ass (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265396)

Looking it up, I stand corrected. I guess I'm rather outdated on Panda taxonomy.

Re:Efficient my ass (0)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265150)

1) Giant Panda: big, lazy, retarded member of the Family Ursidae
2) Evidence of just how retarded they are, eating bamboo instead of more energy-laden plant life
3) No, most non-retarded animals actually WANT to fuck--and require little more cue than a nod of the head, a simple "yes," or the acceptance of their credit card.

Re:Efficient my ass (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265426)

#1) was incorrect on #1.

#2) has everything to to do with evolution, and not intelligence - if there is a food source however inefficient, and little competition for it, something will make use of that source. In fact, it can be argued that is the smart option (you have to eat more, but hey, you don't have to fight others for it)

#3) That's only true regarding creatures which don't put a lot of energy into their young, and that tend to have large litters. Panda don't fall into either category. A large number of species don't mate all the time. Humans and rodents are the most obvious exceptions to this.

Re:Efficient my ass (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264976)

The interesting part comes when they clone the lignocellulase gene from the panda (or its gut bacteria). Then they can insert it into other bacteria to make large amounts of lignocellulace. That's where you start getting into high efficiency.

Re:Efficient my ass (0)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265202)

lol, ass.

Re:Efficient my ass (0)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265266)

Pandas didn't originally eat bamboo. They are so lazy that they chose to stop eating what bears normally eat and start on bamboo because they can sit on their butts all day and eat, despite the fact they can't properly digest it. Pandas are a waste.

Re:Efficient my ass (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265800)

You only see Panda's at zoo, I take it. Sure they are depressed and inactive in captivity, not even having much interest in sex. They took the route of eating mostly bamboo rather than meat in ages past, however they sometimes eat birds and rodents. DNA shows they are true bears (see wikipedia article)

Re:Efficient my ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37268418)

"...won't even reproduce without some zookeeper to show them where to put it..."

That's what she said.

Only one drawback with panda poo biofuel (1)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264632)

You'll need to convince pandas to have more panda-sex in order to get enough panda poo to fuel the biofuel for this whole planet as their numbers are in pretty short supply right now. For some reason pandas hate panda-sex, and I have no idea why. It's awesome!

Re:Only one drawback with panda poo biofuel (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264664)

Not really; once we get the bacterium, we can grow more sans Panda sex

Re:Only one drawback with panda poo biofuel (1)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265014)

In order to get all the answers from the bacterium, you'll need more pandas. Plus there's the problem of everyone breathing in panda farts on a large scale. This could be worse than current emissions!

Re:Only one drawback with panda poo biofuel (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264690)

It's ok, a bacterium can have sex with itself.....

Re:Only one drawback with panda poo biofuel (1)

Mordermi (2432580) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264764)

They only really need one panda. "Instead of harvesting the enzyme-rich poop from bamboo forest floors in the mountains of China, the next step will be to sequence the specific gene(s) responsible for the highly-active enzyme. Once isolated, the gene(s) will be put into a yeast and the yeast culture will produce the enzymes capable of digesting and converting biomass on a commercial scale."

Re:Only one drawback with panda poo biofuel (1)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264990)

You're right but I couldn't resist the urge to expose this near fatal flaw of panda physiology. My fear is that now if we turn to Panda poop for biofuel that the human race will become so content that we too will not be enthusiastic about sex from breathing in all the panda biofuel farts on a large scale.

Re:Only one drawback with panda poo biofuel (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37264834)

For some reason pandas hate panda-sex, and I have no idea why. It's awesome!

the question here is: how do you know about panda-sex?

Re:Only one drawback with panda poo biofuel (0)

rommi04 (2368482) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264856)

For some reason pandas hate panda-sex, and I have no idea why. It's awesome!

Why are you having sex with pandas?

Re:Only one drawback with panda poo biofuel (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37264902)

For some reason pandas hate panda-sex, and I have no idea why. It's awesome!

Why are you having sex with pandas?

Because it's awesome!

Scientists are now officially bored! (1)

biditm (2446434) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264650)

This is it! Scientists are now officially bored!

Re:Scientists are now officially bored! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265850)

Next up: "Researchers claim 70% chance that if we make this shot we totally get laid."

It's a trick! (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264658)

The bamboo industry is just trying to get us to raise billions of panda, so they can get rich selling us the food.

Re:It's a trick! (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265062)

No, its China trying to sneak its intellectual property into the US through the Zoos!

Actually, in all seriousness, since China "lends" giant Pandas to Zoos (they are considered cultural treasures), can they lay claim to this research as their property (assuming they did not authorize the study)?

Finally ... (0)

BaronAaron (658646) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264668)

a use for one of the most useless animals [bootsnall.com] in nature.

And they laughed at me (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264708)

When I told them I was going to be a poop scientist!

Re:And they laughed at me (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265878)

wanking off to German Scheisse porn doesn't count

Laxatives for Pandas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37264710)

Just to take a page from Food Inc. :) there will be Panda's being grown in darkened rooms and standing still being fed laxatives through a tube.

2nd biofuel bacterium story on /. in under 4 hours (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264718)

We gotta hook up these panda-poo bugs with those newspaper eating bugs [brainybehavior.com] from a few hours ago... once they mate and reproduce, we'll solve all the world's problems and live happily ever after in a global utopia.

Seriously, I'm all in favor of this research, I just wish we could get this tech out of the lab an into the local gas station sometime before the next millennium.

China owns Panda Poop IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265166)

These scientists can expect a C&D letter from China any day now. As is well-known, China owns all Panda-related IP, including Panda-derived bacteria. All research using these illegally-obtained properties therefore belong exclusively to China.

Gots to be said. (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264758)

Well, ain't that the shit.

Good old Panda Poo... (0)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264770)

Is there anything it can't do?

ya know what (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264822)

Decomposing shit makes gas, we dont need a fucking story every time someone discovers that bear shit rots just like everything else.

I about said it yesterday over the amazing "compost makes gas" story but they had to go an use some exotic bacteria so it was at least somewhat new

Soylent Green is made of pandas! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37264878)

At least I think it is...

All I hear (1)

Anarchduke (1551707) | more than 3 years ago | (#37264926)

is a mother somewhere talking to her son.

"I spent 50 grand on a college degree and you spend all your time looking at panda poop?"

Re:All I hear (1)

WrecklessSandwich (1000139) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265294)

is a mother somewhere talking to her son. "I spent 50 grand on a college degree and you spend all your time looking at panda poop?"

Only 50? They're lucky to only be looking at the poop instead of shoveling it!

If you ask me.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37264984)

...this is all a load of crap.

*buh-dum*

Water? (1)

Quato (132194) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265048)

I thought the big problem right now was not the availability of simple sugars, but the fact that it takes a quite a few gallons of water to make one gallon of ethanol.
I know that people do all sorts of bullshit inflation of the number of gallons of water, where they factor in the irrigation of the crops and all, but it still takes a lot of water to make those simple sugars into ethanol.
Yet, this magical Panda Poo enzyme might come in handy since it can turn inedible plant matter to humans into fuel. Say we turn in the corn stalks, or the enourmous amount of leaves collected every Fall into fuel. Maybe someday there won't be famines, we can ship all our excess grain to the hungry with the power of Panda Poo!

Re:Water? (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265874)

Personally I have always thought we should just skip the find some magic bacteria step and do something like the Fischer-Tropsch process [wikipedia.org] or a Thermal Depolymerization [wikipedia.org] process. This way we don't even need to go through the steps of making simple sugars and then making ethanol out of those. But hey I guess bio gasoline isn't sexy like alcohol or other exotic fuels. For the thermal depolymerization we could even use pandas as feed stock

Protected Waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265190)

How long until China declares panda pooh, like the panda a protected national icon and insists all panda pooh is shipped back home for repatriation?

Have to say it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37265468)

Po Panda Power Poo.

Pig shit (1)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265598)

I always thought the future was going to be pig shit. [wikipedia.org]

Have you ever heard of photosyntesis? (1)

aglider (2435074) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265662)

That's [wikipedia.org] a very efficient process to produce energy in the form of sugar with a good byproduct like oxygen.
It's already here, doesn't need further studies, it is broadly and readily available and doesn't require complex and polluting industrial production.
The only point is that humans are not able to make a reasonable and balanced use of them, as they are also needed for feeding the Humanity itself.
But this would be another story.

Re: (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266994)

You identify the problem while simultaneously glossing it over... Yes, plants give us the simple sugars we need for our nutrition, but they devote a majority of their photosynthetic efforts toward complex sugar-polymers bound by lignins (ie: cellulose) which we are unable to digest. Cows, termites, and some other critters are able to digest this stuff with the help of their gut flora, but thus far we have not been able to efficiently mimic this process to produce fuel at an industrial scale.

> they are also needed for feeding the Humanity itself

The point is, we humans don't use this stuff anyway, so it would be handy if we could figure out a way to convert it into fuel. Also, there are plenty of crops, such as switchgrass or hemp, that can be grown on land that is currently not practical for "food" crops like corn or beans. Thus, we could expand our harvest of sunlight for fuel without reducing our output of food calories.

Reminds me of a movie... (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265690)

You know, the one with Sean Connery finding the cure for cancer in a rain forest only do have it plowed over? We can't get Pandas to reliably reproduce offspring in captivity... and some people are even saying, "Why are we wasting money trying to save some of these animals that don't seem to want to survive?"

Millions years of evolution is a toolbox we can pull parts from. Lost a species, and you loose millions of years of tools. You don't have to give a damn how cute a Panda is. What you should cause concern is our own survival.

I'm sorry, but (1)

redemtionboy (890616) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265752)

Bio-fuel is nothing but a pipedream. We waste far too many resources trying to develop it when it just takes far too many resources to create a sufficient supply of one type for the fuel to be a sufficient replacement for anything. It would be one thing if we all created a waste of one type from whatever resource we exhumed, but we don't. There is way too much promise in fields like solar power for us to be spending this much time on bio-fuel.

Re:I'm sorry, but (1)

Radtastic (671622) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266008)

The future of clean energy is not likely going to be found in a single energy source. Instead, it'll be the combination of improvements in wind, solar, and yes - biofuels that get the job done collectively. Discounting individual technological research and improvements because it won't save the world all by itself will insure our demise.

Re:I'm sorry, but (1)

redemtionboy (890616) | more than 3 years ago | (#37267164)

but the problem is that the source of bio-fuels is extremely fractured. and when you start creating waste for the sake of bio-fuels you move into energy loss. The other types of green energy don't run into this problem. Solar and wind, particularly in the form of temperature differential solar towers, are here now and are on the threshold of become major power sources for the world. Bio-fuels are not even close.

Re:I'm sorry, but (1)

chris.alex.thomas (1718644) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266128)

yeah, because solar power is a raging success isn't it, how many years away are we from perfecting that technology again? it's almost like the cold fusion of the environmentalist lobbist

Re:I'm sorry, but (1)

redemtionboy (890616) | more than 3 years ago | (#37267822)

It's far enough along that Germany is replacing all of it's nuclear power plants with solar power plants. Is it perfect now? No, but there have been some pretty decent breakthroughs in recent times that, in the next 20 years, solar will be one of the dominant and cheapest energy sources on the planet, replacing much of the coal and nuclear facilities. I'm not some starry eyed dreamer either. I'm very critical of technologies that don't work, and in the past, solar was not to the point of becoming a major power source, but now we're getting there.

Re:I'm sorry, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37268578)

Biofuel *is* solar...

Re:I'm sorry, but (1)

redemtionboy (890616) | more than 3 years ago | (#37269016)

In the sense that it's an extremely long, elaborate, and inefficient process, yes.

Re:I'm sorry, but (1)

lewiscr (3314) | more than 3 years ago | (#37268824)

Part of the problem with bio-fuels is that we've only figured out how to convert useful stuff into fuel. Corn, sugar, etc. The real break-through will come from stuff that isn't (currently) useful, and doesn't need as much attention as modern crops. Stuff like Switchgrass and Bamboo.

Besides, solar power and the electrical grid aren't always an option. There will always be a market for a dense and easy to transport fuel. Think diesel generators in McMurdo Station in Antarctica, or the Canadian Diamond mines. Hopefully that market will be much smaller than it is today, but it won't go away.

Re:I'm sorry, but (1)

redemtionboy (890616) | more than 3 years ago | (#37269086)

corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced;
switch grass requires 45 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced; and
wood biomass requires 57 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/July05/ethanol.toocostly.ssl.html [cornell.edu]

According to the studies, Corn is actually better at producing energy than switch grass or wood. You'd be far better off researching fuel cells for transportable fuel than biomass. and even then, using fossil fuels for transportable fuel only is fine with me. It becomes such a relatively minor market that it does no real environmental damage and is the best solution for a niche market.

Wrong choice! (-1, Troll)

aglider (2435074) | more than 3 years ago | (#37265794)

The panda is an Evolution dead end.
It's a bear that should eat meat but instead eats grass. For this reason it needs spend almost all its time in eating.
And, wouldn't this suffice, it has sex, if any, only once in a year. provided that when the female is fertile there's a male close enough not busy with food.
And if you believe in Creationism, the panda is broken experiment by the Creator.

I would try with human poo or, even better, with fly poo.
Maybe it's not so energy efficient, but we have gazillions of tons of it.

Re:Wrong choice! (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266060)

It's not even a bear, it's somewhat related to the raccoon, so it's also a fucking liar.

Panda Poo Vodka? (1)

dirtydog (51697) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266012)

Maybe Anthony Bourdain's friend wasn't so crazy with his chicken shit vodka idea after all. 95% conversion of biomass to sugar mean shitloads of cheap ethanol.

Possible future quotes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37266028)

"Your car is full of shit mate"
"This fuel is pure crap"
"I went and bought some more shit for my car"

and the sorts

A good example of why not to kill of species (1)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266310)

You never know what they might be good for. Personally, i'm for saving species more from a respect for the infinite complexity of nature. But if you want to convince a society ruled by corporate thinking, this is a strong example of why giving a crap about nature might be useful to the human race.

How does it compare to cow poop and termite poop? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266402)

Other animals already digest cellulose and turn it into simple sugars. Is there any particular advantage to the one found in panda poop? Or do journalists simply like saying "panda poop"?

Re:How does it compare to cow poop and termite poo (1)

Fned (43219) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266780)

It says right there in the summary that it's "remarkably efficient".

"Only a handful of animals are predominantly dependent on bamboo, including the giant panda, red panda, other bamboo lemurs (grey bamboo lemur (Hapalemur griseus) and greater bamboo lemur (Hapalemur simus)) found in Madagascar, and bamboo rats (including Rhizomys sinensis, R. pruinosus, and R. sumatrensis) found in China and Southeast Asia. (Roberts 1992)"

Very, very few animals can digest plant matter efficiently enough to live on bamboo.

Re:How does it compare to cow poop and termite poo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37267312)

There are several species that can break down cellulose, however most are terribly inefficient. That's why ruminants like the cow have such a long, slow digestive process, to give the bugs time to do their work. I believe the point with this story (though admittedly the information is sparse) is that pandas have a bug in their guts that can carry out the process much more quickly and/or efficiently.

Re:How does it compare to cow poop and termite poo (1)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 3 years ago | (#37269610)

Many animals have segmented stomachs for extra bug time, and chew their cud to give it multiple chewings.

95% rate is pretty good.

Pandas Got Nothing On Nibbler (2)

BryanL (93656) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266424)

Can they poop dark matter? Didn't think so.

Aerodynamics (1)

chinton (151403) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266434)

I think putting a panda on top of my car will screw up the aerodynamics, not to mention add too much weight.

Biofuels? I'm terribly disappointed. (4, Funny)

jamrock (863246) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266454)

When I read "Panda Poo" I thought this submission was about an upcoming version of Ubuntu.

Re:Biofuels? I'm terribly disappointed. (1)

jjcushen (1637385) | more than 3 years ago | (#37268252)

I was more disappointed when they announced 10.10 was NOT going to be called Masturbating Monkey.

still not (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37266554)

enough of a reason to care about this dumb meatsacks, come on, they are just begging to become extinct. Like a retarded cousin who insist on sticking forks in power outlets over and over.

Watched a panda documentary years ago (0)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266644)

If ever there was an animal in need of a Darwinian boot to the face, it's the panda. They've evolved to subsist on a primary food source so lacking in nutrition that it just barely keeps them going. So, they're constantly eating or sleeping. The reason the sitting/laying-while-eating image is so iconic is that it's one of the ways they've evolved to maximize energy in-vs-energy used.

But, they are really cute so I guess that excuses their existence. Kind of like an LA trophy wife now that I think about it.

I am a sad panda (1)

Torodung (31985) | more than 3 years ago | (#37266802)

It's bad enough that all our sh!t is made in China, without it being a literal fact.

I say we sick a bunch of enraged grizzlies on them to demonstrate our continued superiority. To hell with biofuels. This makes me want panda burgers. ;^)

A good reason to keep panda. :) (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 3 years ago | (#37267574)

Now, we have a good reason to keep this animal species alive!

Purportedly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37268020)

The research paper was full of shit.

Stupid internet (1)

Joe Snipe (224958) | more than 3 years ago | (#37268478)

I've been so desensitized by the internet that I assumed panda poo was a username.

Forget biofuels... think BOOZE! (1)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 3 years ago | (#37269578)

If you can convert cellulose to simple sugars, then brewer's yeast can convert that to ethanol without worrying about going blind from creating wood alcohol, methanol.

Of course, you'd want to be blind before reading the "Panda Poo Porter" on the label.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?