Research breakthrough: scientists have found in a pile of rotten leaves the key to the processing of plastic materials

Researchers Carbios, a French company involved in industrial development, has created a bacterial enzyme that can dissolve plastic bottles within several hours, the BBC reports.

Исследовательский прорыв: ученые нашли в куче гнилых листьев ключ к переработке пластика

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For the first time this enzyme in its natural form was discovered in a pile of rotten leaves in 2012 by scientists and brought new substance.

“All completely forgot about the find, but it turned out to be the best in this region”, — said in an interview with the British Guardian newspaper, the head of the scientific Department of Carbios, a Professor at the University of Toulouse Alain Marty.

In the development of new technologies the firm Carbios volunteered to help industrial giants such as Pepsi and L’oreal.

A detailed description of the results of studies published Thursday in the prestigious scientific journal Nature.

How it works

The opening of the French scientists can be an important step in the process of recycling some types of plastic, in particular PET bottles made of polyethylene of different density. It is to the category of PET is the most bottles and containers consumer.

The enzyme is able to break down these plastic bottles into materials that can then be used to produce new bottles.

With current technologies the end product of recycling PET turns out not enough quality for the manufacture of new bottles. Usually it is allowed on clothing and carpets.

New enzyme is able to cleave up to 90% of the polymers in just 10 hours, and this, according to scientists, the most effective and optimal enzyme for PET of all known at this time.

“A real breakthrough”

The cost of production of a new enzyme in industrial scale will be small compared to many other processes, scientists say. For example, the manufacture of plastics from petroleum will cost 25 times more expensive.

“This is a real breakthrough in the production and processing of PET,” — said Saleh Jabarin, University of Toledo in the U.S. state of Ohio and member of the scientific Board of the company Carbios.

The researchers hope to obtain accurate answers regarding industrial and commercial potential of the enzyme in 2021, after you have conducted all the tests.

“Our goal is to turn the discovery into a large-scale production by 2024-25 years,” says Deputy Executive Director of the company Carbios Martin Stefan.