It turned out that an enzyme capable of decomposing a plastic bottle was coincidentally produced at the laboratory

ByBo Eide

It is said that it is difficult to decompose with the power of naturePETIt was revealed that an enzyme capable of degrading to the molecular level was created accidentally by the team of scientists. The enzyme that became the foundation was found in Japan's garbage disposal plant in 2016 and will be expected to realize complete recycling of full-scale plastic bottles in the future.

Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles | Environment | The Guardian

This discovery was brought about by the research team of Professor John McGeehan of the University of Portsmouth. The team said that in the course of researching "plastic eating bacteria" found in Japanese garbage in 2016, they created a new enzyme that can disassemble plastic bottles by mutation. Mr. McGeehan said, "To my surprise, what I understood later was that we improved the enzyme."

The research team is near Oxford in order to analyze the structure of plastic degrading enzymes found in Japan in detailSynchrotron"Diamond Light Source"I was exploring the atomic structure by irradiating x-ray which is 100 times stronger than sunlight. Then, among them, enzymes capable of degrading PET resin were produced by mutation. This enzyme takes 5 days to start decomposing plastic bottles, but this is a much shorter time compared to taking centuries of time to decompose naturally in the sea. In addition, researchers are hoping that speeding up is possible.

ByCarsten ten Brink

Mr. McGeehan said, "What we are aiming for is to make it possible to literally recycle plastic by decomposing plastic into the original elements using this enzyme, which can reduce oil consumption, It will be possible to reduce the plastic that exists in the building, "he says.

As of 2018, 1 million plastic bottles are produced per minute in the world. However, only 14% of those recycled are recycled, and the rest are flooded as garbage in landfills or in the ocean, and are eaten by fish etc. to expand pollution. Also, there is a limit to the latest recycling technology, and it is mainstream to be used as carpet fiber even if disassembling plastic bottles. This is caused by insufficient decomposition at the molecular level at the stage of recycling, but it is said that decomposition using enzymes will allow higher resolution than before. Once this technology is put to practical use, it is expected that it will be possible to disassemble plastic bottles and make PET bottles again.

In addition, it is also expected that by transplanting this enzyme to "extreme microorganisms (bacteria)" that can survive even at high temperatures, the scope of activities can be expanded. It is expected that it will be possible to decompose at a speed 10 to 100 times faster than the usual temperature environment by introducing bacteria transplanted with enzymes in a 70 ° C environment where dissolution of PET bottle material begins.

ByRob Sinclair

It is also pointed out that it is possible to decompose other plastics present in the environment such as the ocean using bacteria. PET bottles basically sink in water, but in the future it is expected that by spreading this bacteria to the sea, it is expected that technology will be developed that can degrade the plastics contaminating the ocean.

Oliver Jones, a chemist at RMIT University in Melbourne, who has not participated in the study said, "This new research result shows highly exciting content and helps to eliminate the problem of waste that is expanding in society "There are still a lot of tasks left to be put to practical use, but we are sure that we are going in the right direction," he says.

in Science, Posted by darkhorse_log