Researchers "accidentally" engineered a natural enzyme found in a Japanese waste recycling plant to eat plastic waste. According to the scientists from the UK's University of Portsmouth and the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the enzyme, Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6, degrades polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the material used to make plastic bottles and other crap. The photo above is an electron microscope image of the enzyme degrading PET plastic.
"We hoped to determine (the enzyme's) structure to aid in protein engineering, but we ended up going a step further and accidentally engineered an enzyme with improved performance at breaking down these plastics," NREL's lead researcher Gregg Beckham told CNN. From the University of Portsmouth:
“Serendipity often plays a significant role in fundamental scientific research and our discovery here is no exception,” Professor McGeehan said.
“Although the improvement is modest, this unanticipated discovery suggests that there is room to further improve these enzymes, moving us closer to a recycling solution for the ever-growing mountain of discarded plastics.”
"Engineering a plastic-eating enzyme" (UOP)
According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, if current trends in single-use plastic continue, “there could be more plastic than fish (by weight) in the ocean by 2050.” Having spent countless family vacations at the beach since she was a child, product design student Lucy Hughes, now 24, was distraught by the amount of single-use plastic […]
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If you’re looking to read more in 2020, you probably wish you had more time to get that done. Well, we can’t create more hours in the day (we’re mad about it too), but we can help you maximize those hours. Catch up on that book list and get ahead of the game when you […]