Plastic waste build-up in the environment is an enormous ecological challenge. Indeed, 40% of plastic waste goes around collection systems and ends up residing in natural environments. Enzymes that break down PET, PET hydrolases, have been previously developed but suffer from practical limitations with slow reaction rates and specific pH and temperature ranges. Now, researchers have used a structure-based, machine learning algorithm to engineer a robust and active PET hydrolase. The enzyme, FAST-PETase (functional, active, stable, and tolerant PETase), can break down environment-throttling plastics that typically take centuries to degrade in just a matter of hours and days.
Plastic waste dumped in landfill could be cleared sooner than expected, after engineers developed an enzyme that can break it down in just a few hours. Millions of tons of plastic is left abandoned every year, pilling up in landfills and pollution the land and waterways - typically taking centuries to degrade. A team from the University of Texas in Austin created a new enzyme variant that can supercharge recycling on a large scale, reducing the impact of plastic pollution. The work focusing on PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which is a polymer found in most consumer plastic including bottles, packaging and some textiles. The enzyme was able to complete a'circular process' of breaking down the plastic into smaller parts and chemically putting it back together in as little as 24 hours. They've called it FAST-PETase (functional, active, stable, and tolerant PETase), developed from a natural PETase that allows bacteria to degrade and modify plastic.
Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. Researchers in Texas have created an enzyme variant that can break down plastics that would typically take hundreds of years to dissolve in a matter of hours or days. The creation by officials at The University of Texas at Austin could solve the problem of how to rid the world of billions of tons of plastic piling up in landfills and polluting natural lands and water. "The possibilities are endless across industries to leverage this leading-edge recycling process," Hal Alper, professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering at UT Austin said in a statement.
Researchers have accidentally engineered an enzyme capable of digesting common plastics. The enzyme may have been a fluke but could prove to be a solution to our worst pollution problems which are causing extreme damage to our environment, oceans, and wildlife. Scientists at the University of Portsmouth revealed the chance finding this week. Together with the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the team was conducting a study into PETase, a recently-discovered enzyme which digests polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the plastic used to create plastic bottles and which takes hundreds of years to degrade. An interesting facet of this enzyme, which allows bacteria to consume plastic as a food source, is that it is thought to have evolved naturally in a Japanese recycling center several years ago.
An engineered enzyme that eats plastic could usher in a recycling revolution, scientists hope. British researchers created the plastic-digesting enzyme accidentally while investigating its natural counterpart. Tests showed that the lab-made mutant had a supercharged ability to break down polyethylene terephthalate (PET), one of the most popular forms of plastic employed by the food and drinks industry, and convert it into its original chemicals. This could help reduce waste output and also tackle the use of crude oil in plastic manufacture. Plastic bottles strewn over the shores of beaches and killing marine wildlife could soon be a thing of the past.