Plastic pollution is everywhere. It''s emerging as microplastics that contaminate nearly everything and even in the stomachs of dead whales. This is because a lot of plastic is simply unbiodegradable and has a long term history.
Researchers around the world have developed innovative solutions such as reusing plastic into building blocks and even turning it into useful oils. Yet, the problem persists on a large scale.
An enzyme gangs up hard-to-degrade plastics, leading to a multi-billion dollar increase in capacity.
According to a statement from the university of Texas at Austin, engineers and scientists have come up with an innovative approach that may just alleviate our plastic woes once and for all. The solution, called anenzyme, involves an assortment of environment-throttling plastics that typically take years to degrade in just a few hours to days.
The possibilities for innovation are endless across industries, according to Hal Alper, a professor at the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering at Austin.
This also gives businesses from every sector the opportunity to take a lead in recycling their goods. Through these more sustainable enzyme approaches, we can begin to envision a true circular plastics economy.
Results in as little as 24 hours
Plastics will be fully divided down to monomers in as little as 24 hours. The project focuses on polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a polymer that makes up 12% of all global waste. The enzyme is so effective that it can even work at ambient temperatures, making it suitable for a wide range of applications.
The researchers are now aiming to broaden enzyme production in order to prepare for industrial and environmental applications. These include landfill cleanup initiatives, the greening of high waste-producing industries, and even environmental remediation. The study was published in the journal Nature.
Despite their lack of robustness to pH and temperature ranges, FAST-PETase is capable of depolymerizing individual components of a commercial water bottle and a heated water bottle, which has reduced response rates. Together, we demonstrate a sustainable, self-confidence-based PET process, which includes a biotechnology component.