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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of February 27, 1998

This week, facts about... Superbug! Superbug is the nickname for a synthetic microbe that may help solve the solid waste problem, clean the air, and help you get from here to there.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Seven years ago this week Superbug was born. Superbug is the nickname for a synthetic microbe that may help solve the solid waste problem, clean the air, and help you get from here to there. Superbug is a mixture of an E-coli bacterium and a strain of bacteria usually used to make tequila. Its inventor, a microbiologist named Lonnie Ingram, found that in the laboratory this combo converts solid wastes into ethanol, a fuel which burns cleaner than regular gasoline. If Superbug works in the real world it could cut our dependence on fossil fuels and revolutionize waste to energy technology. And not a moment too soon. Consider that America's CO2 emissions have increased fourfold, and we produce almost twice as much trash per person as we did 40 years ago. The patent for Superbug was the 5 millionth granted by the U-S Patent Office. Incidentally, the very first US patent, granted in 1790, also made environmental history. It was for the process used to make potash, a common ingredient in fertilizer. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.

 

 

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