MicrobeWorld Video
MicrobeWorld Video
Jun 30, 2009
MWV Episode 30 - Biofuels in Puerto Rico
Play • 7 min
Puerto Rico is widely known as the "La Isla del Encanto," which
translated means "The Island of Enchantment." And while its beaches,
tropical rain forest, and biolumescent bays are wonders of nature, the
island is not without its problems. From energy needs to economics,
Puerto Rico shares many issues facing the rest of the world.

In this MicrobeWorld Video episode we talk with Nadathur S. Govind,
Ph.D., Professor, Marine Sciences Department at the University of
Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, and William Rosado, Marine Sciences Department
at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, about the sustainable
biofuel program they are launching in southwestern Puerto Rico.

According to Govind, the island's successful sugarcane industry died in
the 1990's. In fact, local rum manufacturers now import their molasses
from as far away as Malaysia. As a result, approximately 70 percent of
the population in southwestern Puerto Rico is on welfare.

Govind believes he can rebuild the local economy by harnessing
bacterial enzymes extracted from the guts of termites and shipworms
(mollusks) found in the mangroves off the coast to break down the
lignocellulose in sugarcane and hibiscus. The idea is that if he can
bring agricultural production back to his community, he can use the
crop waste to produce ethanol to supplement Puerto Rico's demand for
fuel. And since the byproduct of ethanol is carbon dioxide, he also
plans to use algae to capture the gas and produce biodiesel. The waste
that he has left over can then be returned to the soil as fertilizer or
given to livestock as feed, completing the cycle.

For more information about Govind's program please read the article,
"Combining Agriculture with Microbial Genomics to Make Fuels," found in
the American Society for Microbiology's Microbe magazine.
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