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Boy Discovers Microbe That Eats Plastic

  • Nice work dude! This will solve all the plastic trash floating in our rivers and seas. Mother Nature Network reports :
     
    It’s not your average science fair when the 16-year-old winner manages to solve a global waste crisis. But such was the case at last May’s Canadian Science Fair in Waterloo, Ontario, where Daniel Burd, a high school student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, presented his research on microorganisms that can rapidly biodegrade plastic.

     
    NOTE: there are TWO high school students who discovered plastic-consuming microorganisms. The first was Daniel Burd (last year). The second was Tseng I-Ching (last month), a high school student in Taiwan.
     
      
    Daniel had a thought it seems even the most esteemed PhDs hadn’t considered. Plastic, one of the most indestructible of manufactured materials, does in fact eventually decompose. It takes 1,000 years but decompose it does, which means there must be microorganisms out there to do the decomposing.
      
    Could those microorganisms be bred to do the job faster?
    That was Daniel’s question which he put to the test by a very simple and clever process of immersing ground plastic in a yeast solution that encourages microbial growth, and then isolating the most productive organisms. 
     
        
    The preliminary results were encouraging, so he kept at it, selecting out the most effective strains and interbreeding them. After several weeks of tweaking and optimizing temperatures Burd achieved a 43 % degradation of plastic in six weeks, an almost inconceivable accomplishment.
     
      
    With 500 billion plastic bags manufactured each year and a Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch that grows more expansive by the day, a low cost and nontoxic method for degrading plastic is the stuff of environmentalists’ dreams and, I would hazard a guess, a pretty good start-up company as well.

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June 24, 2009 - Posted by | Science & Technology

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