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Thread #246224
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>(CNN)Scientists have accidentally developed a plastic-eating enzyme that may be used to combat one of the world's worst pollution problems.

>Researchers from Britain's University of Portsmouth and the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) made the discovery while examining the structure of a natural enzyme found in a waste recycling center a few years ago in Japan.

>They say the enzyme, Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6, is able to "eat" polyethylene terephthalate, PET, which was patented as a plastic in the 1940s and is used in millions of tons of plastic bottles.

>Their aim was to study its structure, but they accidentally engineered an enzyme which was even better at breaking down PET plastics.

>"We hoped to determine its structure to aid in protein engineering, but we ended up going a step further and accidentally engineered an enzyme with improved performance at breaking down these plastics," said NREL's lead researcher Gregg Beckham.

>The discovery could result in a recycling solution for millions of tons of plastic bottles made of PET, which currently persists for hundreds of years in the environment, the University of Portsmouth said on its website.

>"Serendipity often plays a significant role in fundamental scientific research and our discovery here is no exception," said Professor John McGeehan, director of the Institute of Biological and Biomedical Sciences in the School of Biological Sciences at Portsmouth.

>The enzyme can also degrade polyethylene furandicarboxylate, or PEF, a bio-based substitute for PET plastics that is being hailed as a replacement for glass beer bottles.
>PEF plastics, although bio-based, are not biodegradable, and would still end up as waste in landfills and in the seas, the NREL said in a report on its website.

>"Although the improvement is modest, this unanticipated discovery suggests that there is room to further improve these enzymes, moving us closer to a recycling solution for the ever-growing mountain of discarded plastics," said McGeehan.

>The researchers, whose finding was published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, are now working on improving the enzyme further to allow it to be used industrially to break down plastics in a fraction of the time, the University of Portsmouth added.

>The NREL underscored the urgency of the work, pointing out that 8 million metric tons of plastic waste, including PET bottles, enter the oceans each year, creating huge man-made islands of garbage.

>"Experts estimate that by 2050, there will be as much waste plastic in the ocean by mass as there are fish," it said.

>According to a three-year study published in Scientific Reports last month, a huge, swirling pile of trash in the Pacific Ocean, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is growing faster than expected and is now three times the size of France, more than double the size of Texas.

>"Few could have predicted that in the space of 50 years, single-use plastics such as drink bottles would be found washed up on beaches across the globe," said McGeehan.

>"We can all play a significant part in dealing with the plastic problem," he added. "But the scientific community who ultimately created these 'wonder-materials' must now use all the technology at their disposal to develop real solutions."
I really doubt they'll be able to just dump it into the ocean solving the problem once and for all. Who knows what it could do to the things living there?
Yeah, dumping it into the ocean or bringin it into the environment at all seems like a really bad idea. Think of all the plastic that is used everywhere and fulfills a purpose. One of the big strengh of it is the fact that neither water nur bacteria or anything can dissolve it. True, PET is mostly used in plastic bottles but once you get organisms with this enzyme out there you will probably never get rid of them and since bacteria are really good at adapting and evolving, it could lead to some bad shit.
It makes disposal easier. If all goes according to keikaku then they could use this enzyme to break down plastic instead of dumping it into landfills.
> pale green text
> on light blue background

Don’t greentext the body of the article you’re posting, it causes needless eye strain and thus people won't read the article or contribute to the thread.
I can see a buge amount of things going wrong with this, but im still in favor
Enable tomorrow theme?
Once the enzyme is in use, it might have a way to spread and attack PET before it is thrown away and still in use. Might even spread to other plastics.
An enzyme is not alive and does not self-replicate.

It wouldn't be like OGMs, where a random bacteria could absorb a new gene and start producing it on its own.
If the enzyme is overused, sure you'll find traces of it everyfuckingwhere, but it won't start a PET-greygoo scenario.
Oh look, more wasteful Big Green technology from libtard "science." Sad!
>have hip operation
>go for a dip in the ocean
>no more hip
>be in boat
>boat starts dissolving
>>246252 : "please dont greentext the body of the article..."
I disagree, some color breaks the eyestrain of a mass of gray w/ black text.
this site could use some graphic creativity.
>man-made islands of garbage

No way?!
See Manhattan Island.

>british scientists discovering stuff found by soviets in the 80'ns

it is really ironic that britbongs dont have real scientists any more..
Here’s an idea, have the American Navy and other naval forces do something else with there fooken trash. It’s an ocean not a flippen dump. Greatest technology know to man... “let’s throw it in the ocean”... wtf
>a huge, swirling pile of trash in the Pacific Ocean, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is growing faster than expected and is now three times the size of France, more than double the size of Texas.

an uncomfortable truth (no, I'm not a Gore shill) if I ever knew any. I remember reading about it years ago and hoping it wasn't true.

Also, shouldn't we learn the effects of the enzyme on man? It sounds hopeful and I don't want to sound like a corporate shill, but shouldn't we know the effects on humans before we can be hopeful?

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