The humble mushroom, enjoyed as food across the globe, could provide fuel and offer us the benefit of a cleaner planet according to research by a Chinese scientist. By GEOFF HILL.
Mushrooms have been described as "meat for vegetarians," a fungus high in protein that can be fried, baked or eaten raw.
Now a Chinese scientist in Kentucky thinks they could also save the world.
Dr Wei Ping Pan has spent a lifetime studying the science of how things burn and the smoke they produce. He specialised in fossil fuels and taught at West Kentucky University where he is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry.
Pan has published more than 140 peer-reviewed papers mostly on fuel and emissions, and plans to share his latest find with Eskom and across Africa.
According to Pan's research, enzymes from mushrooms could reduce the emission from power plants.
"We take the enzymes from almost any species of mushroom and grow them in water," he told Daily Maverick on the phone from Kentucky. "Then, as coal falls down a chute into a storage hold, we spray it with the solution. The coal sits for a week or so, and is ready for burning.
"Our tests show that,...