New bioplastic made by bacteria

16-Sep-08
University College Dublin (UCD) has come up with a way to recycle old plastic bottles and containers with microorganisms, resulting in a new plastic out of the bacteria's digestive system that is biodegradable. If the process can be brought up to an industrial level, it could solve the problems of plastic waste. UCD's process works like this - Polypropylene is cooked until it turns into a styrene oil. The oil is then fed to microorganisms, which metabolically turn it into globules of fatty acids. When 60% of the bacteria consists of those fatty acids, the microorganism is split open and the harvested fatty acids are converted to a biodegradable plastic. The glass transition temperature of this plastic is a low minus 43.3 degrees Celsius and high of 278 Celsius. However, it will degrade in a compost heat at 32 degrees because the microorganisms (in the landfill) release enzymes.
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