A new plastic recycling technology

Thread Starter

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
6,888
This looks very promising:


The enzyme, originally discovered in a compost heap of leaves, reduced the bottles to chemical building blocks that were then used to make high-quality new bottles. Existing recycling technologies usually produce plastic only good enough for clothing and carpets.
@jpanhalt , I'm sure you'll find this article interesting.

For me, the holy grail of plastic recycling will be when an economically sensible method for recycling PVC is finally found.
 

Thread Starter

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
6,888

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
16,384
Maybe ... but this at least gives it the benefit of the doubt, from my part:
These things come along every few years, kinda like new fusion ideas. This one may be different.

A couple things catch my eye: 1) They've secured production capacity with Novozymes. I competed against Novo for most of my career and they're Tier 1 in the industry. They are smart enough to not suffer fools or get wrapped up in a boondoggle. That means to me that smart people doing jobs like I used to do have looked this over and given the nod. Now they could be agreeing to a pure contract-manufacturing deal where they get paid the same one way or the other. In my experience that's unlikely. 2) Not only did they publish, they published in Nature - a highly respected journal - but the abstract talks about productivity per unit of enzyme protein, and other meaningful parameters. Not the usual pie-in-the-sky nonsense.

It will still be a challenge to commercialize but they may be on the right track.
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
9,090
I was convinced early on that microbes, and particularly bacteria could live off almost anything. I was surprised at the time to learn that antibiotics were added jet to fuel to prevent growth of such organisms, including Pseudomonas and Bacillus. Both are usually associated with plants, water, and soil. This link may give you an idea about how long ago that was: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC546914/ :(

In my mind, it is just dedication, searching in the right places (PCR based on Thermophilus aquaticus), and laboratory manipulations.

I was not aware of such recent progress. Thanks for sharing it.
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
16,384
In my mind, it is just dedication, searching in the right places...
It was true throughout my career in biotech that the real source of novelty and diversity was nature. Whatever you need, you can find in nature if you can screen for it. That isn't always easy, though! A few improvements are made by man and that increases as our knowledge grows. But we still look to nature to teach us.
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
9,090
It was true throughout my career in biotech that the real source of novelty and diversity was nature. Whatever you need, you can find in nature if you can screen for it. That isn't always easy, though! A few improvements are made by man and that increases as our knowledge grows. But we still look to nature to teach us.
Yep. The first cephalosporin antibiotic was discovered to be made by a fungus isolated from sewage in Italy. That led to one of the most important groups of antibiotics because of their broad activity against gram negative bacteria that the chemically related penicillins lack. Of course, that was the environment from which the organism came and had adapted to.
 

Alec_t

Joined Sep 17, 2013
11,144
Let's hope the enzyme doesn't escape into the general environment like the coronavirus and start gobbling up every plastic item on the planet .... or we're doomed, we're doomed ! :D
 
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