Bye, Pollution Crisis! Scientists Accidentally Created Revolutional Enzyme that Eats Plastic

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Scientists accidentally mutated an enzyme found in a recycling facility in Japan several years ago. The resulting enzyme can digest some of the most commonly polluting forms of .

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Revolution in pollution 

Scientists at the University of Portsmouth and the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have created a mutant enzyme that is able to “eat” and could help tackle the world’s pollution problem by accident.

“Serendipity often plays a significant role in fundamental scientific research and our discovery here is no exception,” said Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research.

The substance is based on an enzyme – a “biological catalyst” – first produced by bacteria living in a Japanese recycling centre that researchers suggested had evolved it in order to eat .

The international team tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better.

“What actually turned out was we improved the enzyme, which was a bit of a shock,” said Prof McGeehan. “It’s great and a real finding.”

Why do we need to fight with ?

The main problem with bottles is that they are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which lingers in the environment for hundreds of years. The new enzyme can”digest” some of the planet’s most commonly polluting plastics so some have called a discovery a “recycling solution”. 

“What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to ,” said McGeehan. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of in the environment.”

The amount of trash in the Pacific Ocean is growing every day. Now it is three times the size of France – 1.6 M km2.

Around 20% of the trash is debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami. 8% of the mass is microplastics and pieces smaller than 5 millimeters.

2 aircraft surveys and 30 vessels were used to explore the debris field.

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Summary
Bye, Pollution Crisis! Scientists Accidentally Created Revolutional Enzyme that Eats Plastic
Title
Bye, Pollution Crisis! Scientists Accidentally Created Revolutional Enzyme that Eats Plastic
Description
Scientists accidentally mutated an enzyme found in a recycling facility in Japan several years ago. The resulting enzyme can digest some of the most commonly polluting forms of plastic.
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