Friday, July 20, 2018
Contact us    |    Advertise    |   Help    |   Cookie Policy    |   Privacy Policy    RSS icon Twitter icon Facebook icon
    Home  ·  News  ·  Forum  ·  Stories  ·  Image Gallery  ·  Columns  ·  Encyclopedia  ·  Videos
Find: in

Mutant enzyme breaks down plastic bottles


Posted on Tuesday, 17 April, 2018 | Comment icon 14 comments

Could an end to plastic pollution be in sight ? Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 epSos.de
Scientists have inadvertently created a mutant enzyme capable of breaking down common waste plastics.
In a breakthrough that could prove invaluable in the battle against ocean pollution, scientists studying a type of plastic-eating bacterium found in Japan have managed to produce an enzyme that has proven enormously effective at breaking down PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic.

The achievement was entirely accidental as the team had only tweaked the enzyme in order to learn more about how it had evolved, not to deliberately improve its effectiveness.

"What actually turned out was we improved the enzyme, which was a bit of a shock," said study leader Professor John McGeehan of the University of Portsmouth. "It's great and a real finding."

Remarkably, the new enzyme starts to break down plastic within a matter of days.

"What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic," said McGeehan.

"It means we won't need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (14)

Tags: Plastic, Enzyme

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by Hankenhunter on 17 April, 2018, 23:26
Kinda like how gun powder was invented? I can imagine his surprise (after he checked to see if all his bits were still there and he extinguished his eyebrows) after mixing a few harmless compounds togetherand getting them too close to a heat source. Science can be funny especially when you're standing further back. Hank
Comment icon #6 Posted by ChaosRose on 18 April, 2018, 11:26
Anyone think it's not such great news? It has always been an issue that this might become a food source for something, and then everything we use plastic for is in jeopardy. We use it for a lot of stuff. If we can control it, great.
Comment icon #7 Posted by NicoletteS on 18 April, 2018, 13:43
I had the same reaction. Yeah that' great for cleanup but it eats plastic in a matter of days doesn' this mean the total destruction of everything plastic which we use for everything? So what happens when it gets loose and a couple days later all our food and drinks are not viable... along with every single plastic part in everything we use? Is my phone going to disentigrate?
Comment icon #8 Posted by David D Stevens on 18 April, 2018, 14:29
Anyone else remember The Plastic Eatersepisode of the BBC science fiction series Doomwatch ? A plane dissolves in mid-air, its plastic components eaten away. Doomwatch faces its first challenge: to halt the disastrous spread of a man-made virus with the power to melt all plastic.
Comment icon #9 Posted by ChaosRose on 19 April, 2018, 0:59
That's scary!
Comment icon #10 Posted by seanjo on 19 April, 2018, 11:20
So the waste productof the enzyme is carbon?
Comment icon #11 Posted by mysticwerewolf on 21 April, 2018, 6:41
my first thought was to wonder if it could be mixed with salt water so we can get rid of the great pacific garbage dump, but if I understood right it turns the plastic back into a petroleum product which is really no better than the plastic is for the oceans. it is most likely harmful to sea life anyways.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Jon the frog on 27 April, 2018, 17:48
Making some OGM marine bacteria would be great !
Comment icon #13 Posted by Vilasarius on 27 April, 2018, 19:50
Glad to know we have a way to combat the enormous plastic problem the world has. It has its uses, but getting rid of it has always been the hard part.
Comment icon #14 Posted by jesspy on 28 April, 2018, 9:54
I have read about recycled plastic being used in roads. Lasts longer and is easier on tyres. Plus less repair from pot holes etc.


Please Login or Register to post a comment.


  On the forums
Forum posts:
Forum topics:
Members:

6235068
264646
176151

 
New armored dinosaur species found in Utah
7-20-2018
With its armored plating and bony protrusions, this impressive dinosaur was well protected from predators.
Giant Egyptian sarcophagus has been opened
7-20-2018
The contents of a mysterious giant-sized coffin discovered in Alexandria have finally been revealed.
Real-life 'Iron Man' suit has gone on sale
7-19-2018
Inventor Richard Browning's impressive flight suit is now available to purchase for a whopping $440,000.
Sunken warship may contain gold worth $133bn
7-19-2018
The wreck of a Russian ship thought to contain 5,500 boxes of gold bars has been found off South Korea.
Featured Videos
Gallery icon 
Why do bandaids glow ?
Posted 7-19-2018 | 0 comments
Dianna Cowern investigates why some bandaids produce a blue glow when they are opened.
 
Spinning a record to pieces
Posted 7-15-2018 | 0 comments
The Slo Mo Guys attempt another intriguing slow motion experiment with old vinyl records.
 
Pearlfish's gross hiding spot
Posted 7-8-2018 | 1 comment
A pearlfish finds a particularly unappealing place to hide on the ocean floor.
 
What jobs will flourish in the future ?
Posted 7-5-2018 | 2 comments
Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku predicts which jobs will be important in the future.
 
Skunked
Posted 7-1-2018 | 0 comments
Coyote Peterson meets a rather adorable skunk - but can he avoid getting sprayed ?
 
 View: More videos
Stories & Experiences
Huge black triangle UFO
6-13-2018 | Mt Maunganui New Zealand
 
Ghastly intuition
6-13-2018 | Bay Area CA
 
A haunted... desk?
6-13-2018 | Peoria, Illinois
 
Mystery bristle brush
5-9-2018 | Whittier, U.S.A.
 
Dreams and clues to the future
3-31-2018 | Philippines and Germany
 
Black cloaked figure
3-31-2018 | Carlisle, Cumbria, England
 
Three knocks
3-8-2018 | Canada
 
Two shadows of me
3-8-2018 | Bellflower, LA
 
I think I know what I saw
3-5-2018 | Near Sultan, Washington
 
Ghost, or something else ?
3-5-2018 | Ohio, USA
 

         More stories | Send us your story
 
Top   |  Home   |   Forum   |   News   |   Image Gallery   |  Columns   |   Encyclopedia   |   Videos   |   Polls
UM-X 10.712 Unexplained-Mysteries.com 2001-2018
Terms   |   Privacy Policy   |   Cookies   |   Advertise   |   Contact   |   Help/FAQ