Japanese researchers discovered a bacterium that eats polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the stuff used to make plenty of single-use plastic products that sit in landfills. The bacterium, named Ideonella sakaiensis, uses enzymes to break down the plastic into carbon and energy sources for the microbe. From Chemical & Engineering News:
To find microbes that could pull PET apart, a team led by Kohei Oda of Kyoto Institute of Technology and Kenji Miyamoto of Keio University screened 250 sediment, soil, wastewater, and activated sludge samples from a PET bottle recycling facility in Sakai, Japan....
The study’s first author, Shosuke Yoshida of Keio University, says that a PET pretreatment that would enlarge the polymer’s amorphous areas would make waste more appetizing for the bacterium. Also, he notes, it might be possible to engineer the enzymes to make them faster and more practical.
Bacteria Devour Polluting Plastic in Landfills (via SciAm)
A bacterium that degrades and assimilates poly(ethylene terephthalate) (Science) Read the rest
I like classic motorcycles and cars. I live by the sea. 303 Aerospace Protectant keeps plastic and rubbery bits looking fresh and new.
I don't know what the hell is in this stuff. I don't know why it is different than Armor-All, but the results are unmistakeable. 303 Aerospace really works.
I spray a rag and apply the milky looking liquid to the surface that needs it. It seems adding a little sea air and some sun to the rubber grommets, caps and fastener covers on my old BMW airhead will cause things to disintegrate before my eyes. A light coating of 303 Aerospace every few months has stopped that completely.
I've seen old vinyl seats come back to life. 303 amazingly even restores some of the lost flexibility in that old Corinthian leather, cracking and peeling significantly slowed to stopped. I've used 303 to keep my plastic kayaks looking new for years, and the fiberglass top on my Volkswagen Westfalia camper. Most amazingly, 303 really does a wonderful job on the horrible plastic covered cardboard dash in that same VW. The bus doesn't look new, but the dash does.
I'd read a lot of complaints from people about Armor-All over hydrating surfaces and cracking them worse. I suspect that might be due to over application, but I find 303 gives me a better, longer lasting finish anyways.
303 (30313-CSR) Aerospace Protectant Trigger Sprayer, 32 Fl. oz. Read the rest
Researchers calculate that as many as 9 out of 10 seabirds have plastic garbage in their intestines. So sad. Read the rest
Demonstration of a DIY device to turn plastic bottles into plastic string/ribbon. (Thanks, Rick "Under The Weather" Pescovitz!) Read the rest
Ford and Heinz are teaming up to turn leftover tomato bits into a plant-based plastic for auto parts. (UPI) Read the rest
One does not simply sail into the Pacific Garbage Patch and clean it up like convicts on the interstate. For one thing, those pieces of plastic are much smaller than you're imagining. For another, when the plastic is that small, any attempt at filtering inevitably sucks up tiny sea life, as well
. Read the rest
Drop a message-in-a-bottle into the Gulf of Mexico, somewhere near New Orleans, and, 10 years later, your missive has a high likelihood of ending up near Cuba — or northern France. The website Adrift
uses data from a global system of floating buoys
to show you how ocean currents carry things like plastic debris around the planet. Read the rest
The answer lies in another question. How can PVC — polyvinyl chloride, a commonly used type of plastic — be the stuff that makes tough, rigid sewer pipes and, simultaneously, be the stuff that makes floppy vinyl signs and cheap Goth pants?
"PVC is hard stuff. But if you put in a lot of plasticizer, you can get it to be soft," explains John Pojman, a chemistry professor at Louisiana State University. At a molecular level, PVC is a dense thing. Imagine a slinky in its stiff, compressed state. The plasticizers are chemical compounds derived from coal tar. Mix them with PVC and the small molecules of plasticizer shove their in between the densely packed PVC molecules. Imagine stretching the slinky out so that its coils are now wobbly. Same thing happens here. The more plasticizer you add, the less rigid the PVC.
And it's the plasticizers that produce that smell — the one we associate with the vinyl interior of a new car.
Image: 365:37 - Mar 29 - that new car smell, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivative-Works (2.0) image from waldengirl's photostream Read the rest
Earlier this week, Jason told you about a TEDx talk in which 19-year-old Boyan Slat presents a plan to remove plastic from the world's oceans
. Lots of people are excited about this, which is reasonable. Particulate plastic in the ocean is a big problem that has, thus far, evaded any reasonable clean-up plans. There's just so much of it, it's so tiny, and the ocean is, you know, kind of huge. If a kid can come up with a plan that works, it would be fantastic. Unfortunately, the ocean scientists at Deep Sea News say Slat's system isn't as simple and practical as he thinks it is
. Among the many problems: Slat's plan would catch (and kill) as many vitally important plankton as pieces of plastic, and it calls for mooring plastic-collecting ships in the open ocean where the water is 2000 meters deeper than the deepest mooring ever recorded. Here's a mantra to remember: TED Talks — interesting if true. Read the rest