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Using Microbes To Eat Plastic Bags

Using Microbes To Eat Plastic Bags
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Dan Gould
  • 30 may 2008

A Canadian student has hacked nature and figured out a way to compress a 1,000 year process down to 3 months. As a science fair project, 16-year-old Daniel Burd used a special blend of microbes to speed up the decomposition of polyethelene plastic bags. The inspiration for the project was borne out of his frustration with the rapidly accumulating bags in his house. The process is very simple, has little waste product and is expected to scale up.

Industrial application should be easy, said Burd. “All you need is a fermenter . . . your growth medium, your microbes and your plastic bags.”

The inputs are cheap, maintaining the required temperature takes little energy because microbes produce heat as they work, and the only outputs are water and tiny levels of carbon dioxide — each microbe produces only 0.01 per cent of its own infinitesimal weight in carbon dioxide, said Burd.

“This is a huge, huge step forward . . . We’re using nature to solve a man-made problem.”

TheRecord.com: WCI student isolates microbe that lunches on plastic bags

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