Falke Warnecke, a researcher at the US department of Energy, calls termites, “walking bioreactors.” The stomachs of termites are very effective at converting cellulose (plant tissue) into sugar. Biofuel works by using a variety of lab enzymes to convert cellulose tissue (like switchgrass and poplar trees) into ethanol. Currently the enzymes are very expensive and the process is painstaking. Warnecke believes that by studying the digestion process of termites, scientists will be able to improve upon their enzymes and produce biofuels more efficiently.
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