Bacteria 'trained' to convert bio-wastes into plastic

A scientist has 'trained' bacteria to convert all the main sugars in vegetable, fruit and garden waste efficiently into high-quality green bioplastics.


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Published: Mon 22 Nov 2010, 12:33 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:44 AM

By adapting the eating pattern of bacteria and subsequently training them, Jean-Paul Meijnen, a microbiologist at the TU Delft in The Netherlands, has succeeded in converting sugars in processable materials, so that no bio-waste is wasted.

The technical problems associated with turning potato peel into sunglasses, or cane sugar into car bumpers, have already been solved. But the current methods are not very efficient: only a small percentage of the sugars can be converted into valuable products, according to a TU Delft statement.

In the new experiment, the favoured raw materials for such processes are biological wastes left over from food production. Lignocellulose, the complex combination of lignin and cellulose present in the stalks and leaves of plants that gives them their rigidity, is such a material.

"Unfortunately, the production of plastics from bio-wastes (from agriculture) is still quite an expensive process because the waste material is not fully utilised," explains Meijnen.

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