A new enzyme is capable of decomposing plastic in one week

A new enzyme is capable of decomposing plastic in one week

Being one of the most used materials in the manufacture of almost all products, it is also one of the materials whose decomposition process is extremely slow, which produces as a disadvantage that, if improperly disposed of, the negative impact on the environment increases every day.

However, a research team at the University of Texas has succeeded in modifying an enzyme to acquire the ability to destroy the components of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) individually. PET is a plastic that forms part of approximately 12% of the world's waste.

This research was so successful that it not only managed to degrade each component, but did so in record time of one week, this process is known as depolymerization.

The results look promising, the field of recycling can benefit from the action of this enzyme, although for now it must be determined how to expand this technological breakthrough and take advantage of all the benefits it offers, especially at the industrial level.

About this process, chemical engineering professor Vince Hal Alper stated, "It has advantages over traditional recycling [...] If the plastic were melted and then re-molded, the integrity of the plastic would begin to be lost with each turn of the recycling process".

Although other enzymes capable of achieving similar results have been known to exist for some years, they must work under specific conditions. In the case of the new enzyme, Professor Alper commented that it can work at different temperatures and pH levels.

So, the researchers continue to test the enzyme in different PET plastics and find a way to mass-market its implementation.

Read more about the enzyme in the journal Nature


28 de Junio, 2022