Made from microorganisms and spawned in seawater, the new sustainable biopolymer technology developed by TAU researchers may one day free the world of its worst pollutant
A new Tel Aviv University study describes a process to make bioplastic polymers that don’t require land or fresh water — resources that are scarce in much of the world. The polymer is derived from microorganisms that feed on seaweed. It is biodegradable, produces zero toxic waste and recycles into organic waste.
The invention was the fruit of a multidisciplinary collaboration between Dr. Alexander Golberg of TAU’s Porter School of Environmental and Earth Sciences and Prof. Michael Gozin of TAU’s School of Chemistry. Their research was recently published in the journal Bioresource Technology.
According to the United Nations, plastic accounts for up to 90 percent of all the pollutants in our oceans, yet there are few comparable, environmentally friendly alternatives to the material.
“Plastics take hundreds of years to decay. So bottles, packaging and bags create plastic ‘continents’ in the oceans, endanger animals and pollute the environment,” says Dr. Golberg. “Plastic is also produced from petroleum products, which has an industrial process that releases chemical contaminants as a byproduct.
“A partial solution to the plastic epidemic is bioplastics, which don’t use petroleum and degrade quickly. But bioplastics also have an environmental price: To grow the plants or the bacteria to make the plastic requires fertile soil and fresh water, which many countries, including Israel, don’t have.
“Our new process produces ‘plastic’ from marine microorganisms that completely recycle into organic waste.”
The researchers harnessed microorganisms that feed on seaweed to produce a bioplastic polymer called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). “Our raw material was multicellular seaweed, cultivated in the sea,” Dr. Golberg says. “These algae were eaten by single-celled microorganisms, which also grow in very salty water and produce a polymer that can be used to make bioplastic.
“There are already factories that produce this type of bioplastic in commercial quantities, but they use plants that require agricultural land and fresh water. The process we propose will enable countries with a shortage of fresh water, such as Israel, China and India, to switch from petroleum-derived plastics to biodegradable plastics.”
According to Dr. Golberg, the new study could revolutionize the world’s efforts to clean the oceans, without affecting arable land and without using fresh water. “Plastic from fossil sources is one of the most polluting factors in the oceans,” he says. “We have proved it is possible to produce bioplastic completely based on marine resources in a process that is friendly both to the environment and to its residents.
“We are now conducting basic research to find the best bacteria and algae that would be most suitable for producing polymers for bioplastics with different properties,” he concludes.
Learn more: Sustainable “Plastics” Are on the Horizon
The Latest on: Sustainable plastics
via Google News
The Latest on: Sustainable plastics
- LVMH Is Opening a Research Center That Will Focus on Sustainable Materials and Biofuelson July 2, 2021 at 4:15 pm
When it comes to sustainability, LVMH wants to do its homework. On Thursday, the luxury conglomerate announced plans to build a new center in Saclay, France dedicated to researching sustainable ...
- Another Voice: Chemical recycling won’t solve our plastics problemon July 2, 2021 at 1:00 pm
Brightmark, a chemical recycler, turns plastic waste into fuel, rather than new plastics. Of the 37 chemical recycling projects announced in the U.S. since 2000, just three are op ...
- Congress eyes role of science in fixing plastics recyclingon July 2, 2021 at 5:23 am
The plastics recycling system in the United States needs major help. That was a clear area of bipartisan agreement at a recent U.S. House of Representatives' Science subcommittee hearing in Washington ...
- The Future Of Flying Is Closer Than Ever-Sustainable Fuel Is The Keyon July 2, 2021 at 5:01 am
At pre-pandemic levels, aviation was responsible for 2-3% of overall global emissions, and current forecasts from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) anticipate significant growth in ...
- Udderly brilliant! Scientists discover microbes in cow stomachs that can break down PLASTIC — representing a sustainable way to reduce litteron July 2, 2021 at 2:02 am
In the diet of cows, these bacterial communities break down natural plant polymers, explained the researchers from Austria's University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences.
- Stopping Marine Plastic Pollution: A Key IUCN Congress Goalon July 2, 2021 at 12:22 am
Documented images of albatross chicks and marine turtles dying slow deaths from eating plastic bags and other waste are being seared into our consciences. And yet our mass pollution of Earth’s seas ...
- Microbes in cow stomachs can break down plasticon July 2, 2021 at 12:22 am
Plastic is notoriously hard to break down, but researchers in Austria have found that bacteria from a cow's rumen—one of the four compartments of its stomach—can digest certain types of the ubiquitous ...
- Microbes in Cow Stomachs Can Break Down Plastic – Sustainable Way to Reduce Plastic Litteron July 1, 2021 at 9:15 pm
Bacteria found in the rumen, one of the compartments that make up the cow stomach, can break down plastics, representing an eco-friendly way to reduce litter. Plastic is notoriously hard to break down ...
- BASF Launches New ‘Valeras’ Brand Sustainable Plastic Additives Platformon July 1, 2021 at 1:31 pm
The Valeras portfolio included BASF’s plastic additives that enable customers to achieve their sustainability goals.
- Scientists make fuel with recycled plastic, as air travel industry looks to sustainable fuelon July 1, 2021 at 12:31 pm
Fuel is a big polluter of the environment, and the aviation industry uses a lot of it. “As a modern society, we’re particularly good at producing trash,” Felleman said. He said they are working on ...
via Bing News