Researchers Say Tobacco Could be Next Auto Fuel Source

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 31 (UPI) — Cars of the future could be fueled by tobacco, genetic-engineering university researchers in Philadelphia suggest.

“Tobacco is very attractive as a biofuel because the idea is to use plants that aren’t used in food production,” said Vyacheslav Andrianov, assistant professor of cancer biology at Thomas Jefferson University’s Jefferson Medical College.

While tobacco can generate biofuel more efficiently than other agricultural crops, most of its oil is typically found in its seeds, the researchers say in a study published in Plant Biotechnology Journal.

Tobacco plants don’t generally produce enough seeds to be useful — slightly more than 1,300 pounds an acre.

But Andrianov and his colleagues found ways of genetically engineering the plants so that their leaves express the oil — in some instances, 20 times more oil than occurs in nature, Andrianov said.

“Based on these data, tobacco represents an attractive and promising ‘energy plant’ platform and could also serve as a model for the utilization of other high-biomass plants for biofuel production,” he said.

Biofuels — liquid fuels derived from plant materials — are entering the market due to factors such as oil price spikes.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

One Response to “Researchers Say Tobacco Could be Next Auto Fuel Source”
  1. Casey Vedant says:

    Great research from Thomas Jefferson University on the possibility of using tobacco for biofuel. With most plantations turning into wineries, this might allow already-existing agricultural infrastructure to be used for greener purposes.

    If you’re interested in biofuels check out this great website with hundreds of case studies on emerging green technologies and alternative energies: It has the largest b2b green directory on the web and lots of sustainability white papers.


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