Genetically engineered microbes convert waste plastic into vanillin

via Chemistry World

Scientists in the UK have genetically engineered Escherichia coli to transform plastic waste into vanillin. ‘Instead of simply recycling plastic waste into more plastic, what our system demonstrates for the first time is that you can use plastic as a feedstock for microbial cells and transform it into something with higher value and more industrial utility,’ says Stephen Wallace from the University of Edinburgh. The biotransformation ‘isn’t just replacing a current chemical process, it’s actually achieving something that can’t be done using modern synthetic methods.’

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is one of the most widely used types of plastic. Most existing recycling technologies degrade PET into its substituent monomers, ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid, then repurpose them in second-generation plastic materials. Wallace and Joanna Sadler, also at the University of Edinburgh, want to upcycle these monomers into alternative products.

Read the full story here: https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/genetically-engineered-microbes-convert-waste-plastic-into-vanillin/4013767.article

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New plant-based plastics can be chemically recycled with near-perfect efficiency


via The Academic Times

German chemists have developed two sustainable plastic alternatives to high-density polyethylene that can be chemically recycled more easily and nearly 10 times as efficiently, thanks to “break points” engineered into their molecular structures.

Read the full story here: https://academictimes.com/new-plant-based-plastics-can-be-chemically-recycled-with-near-perfect-efficiency/


Catalyst turns mixed plastic waste into natural gas

via Chemistry World

Plastic waste can now be efficiently converted into methane using a ruthenium-based catalyst. The patented technology could help mitigate the planet’s growing plastic waste problem while producing methane for use as a fuel or chemical feedstock in a more environmentally friendly way than fracking.

Recovering chemicals and fuel from plastic waste streams is nothing new. Processes including pyrolysis and gasification, which break down plastics using high temperatures and catalytic processes, can recover useful materials. However, these approaches create several products, including waste, and require additional processing and purification.

Read the full story here: https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/catalyst-turns-mixed-plastic-waste-into-natural-gas/4013218.article


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    Material gradients could strengthen polymer components

    via Phys.org

    Combining flexible and stiff materials has bestowed bamboo with a strength-to-weight ratio that rivals steel. Gradually transitioning from a soft to hard substance allows the squishy squid to slice up prey with rigid, scissor-like beaks.

    With the help of a new  co-developed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, these two evolution-honed principles could eventually enable engineers to double or triple the strength of polymer-based components.

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-02-material-gradients-polymer-components.html#jCp

    Sustainability: Biodegradable Mardi Gras Beads

    via LSU.edu

    LSU Biology Sciences Professor Develops Biodegradable Mardi Gras Beads from Microalgae

    BATON ROUGE – Tens of thousands of pounds of plastic Mardi Gras beads enter the environment every year. After the parades, most of the discarded beads end up in the landfill. Biologist Naohiro Kato at LSU is developing an innovative way to solve this problem by creating biodegradable Mardi Gras beads.

    Read the full story here: http://www.lsu.edu/mediacenter/news/2018/02/06bio_kato_beads.php

    recycle plastic
    Mardi Gras 2007 Trash Cleanup By William Gunn (originally posted to Flickr as Mardi Gras 2007) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons