The fungus produces cineole, also known as eucalyptol , which can be used as an octane boosting fuel additive. Boosting the octane of fuel reduces its volatility, or explosiveness, so that engines run smoothly without "knocking."
The fungus, Hypoxylon sp., also produces branched cyclohexanes, molecules, which, along with eucalyptol, can be used to prevent ethanol-petroleum mixtures from separating.
Eucalyptol's properties are well documented, but the only previously known source was from processing the bark and leaves of eucalyptus trees. However, such processing could never produce economically viable amounts of eucalyptol for fuel additives. The fungus holds the possibility of solving this problem, through large-scale industrial fermentation processes.
In addition to its potential as a fuel additive, eucalyptol is currently used as an antimicrobial and decongestant in a number of pharmaceutical products.
A paper on the fungus has been published in the journal Microbial Ecology. MSU has filed a patent on the fungus and research is ongoing.
Interested parties can license the new technology by contacting Nick Zelver with the MSU Technology Transfer Office at (406) 994-7868, http://tto.montana.edu or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. MSU requests that interest be expressed in writing by April 15, 2011.
MSU currently has 185 licenses on technologies developed by faculty. Of those, 97 licenses are with Montana companies.
Contact: Nick Zelver, MSU Technology Transfer Office, (406) 994-7868, email@example.com