Termites are more than just destroyers of homes. In fact, a relatively small amount of termite species are considered pests to structures, and unless a termite species is invasive to a particular region, it could be said that all termite species are beneficial. When it comes to the benefits that termites provide, most people would mention ecological benefits. Of course, it is true that termites are essential to the natural environment, but they are also essential for the continuance of human life on earth. Termites are mostly known for converting barren soil into fertile soil, but they also provide humans with the air that we need to breathe. According to Dr. Roger Gold, urban entomologist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, the digestive gas that termites expel as a result of eating cellulose-rich wood provides the air with the nitrogen that humans require. Without them, humans would literally be unable to survive. In addition to these benefits, researchers have been developing alternative forms of fuel by examining termite digestive systems. This may not be news to some people, as this research has been conducted for the past several years, but researchers are quickly approaching a revolution in energy production thanks to the wood-eating critters.
Researchers are now able to convert the grass clippings that collect in lawn mowers into fuel to power vehicles. According to termite expert, Lisa Margonelli, corn stalks can be converted into fuel, sawdust into oil, and grass into “grassoline,” all by creating mechanisms that mimic termite digestion. Termites can turn one single sheet of paper into one liter of hydrogen, and this is already being done. Between the years of 2010 and 2014, the Department of Defense spent 100 million dollars on renewable forms of energy inspired by termites. This research has already resulted in the development of an advanced form of rocket fuel that sells for just 25 dollars per gallon. Unfortunately, we will have to wait before our cars are powered by grass, but this is not due to a lack of research. So far, termite research has reduced the price of “grassoline” for cars from 100,000 dollars per gallon to just 30 dollars per gallon, but regular gasoline is still cheaper. However, once the market become more friendly to the production of termite inspired fuels and engines, the price of grassoline will become cheaper than regular gasoline.
Would you be willing to pay a little more for environmentally friendly and termite-inspired forms of fuel?