Termites study inspires ethanol producers


    You might want to put down any food you’re eating before finishing this one.

    A group of scientists say that they have found inspiration for building a better cellulosic ethanol process in the intestines of termites.

    Anyone who has had problems with termites can tell you that the little bugs can seem like they have superpowers because they can convert 95 percent of what they eat into more energy. It’s like they never have to come up for air. They can just keep on eating through the wood in your house’s framework because the very act of consumption gives them energy to keep on doing it.

    So scientists at Diversa Corporation, a biotech company, have studied the enzymes that break down the cellulose in termites’ breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have also been able to manufacture enzymes that can reproduce the high-octane calorie-burning that termites naturally possess.

    Sounds good as long as you don’t stop to think about it too much …