Added by Annika L. Krugel on November 22, 2010
Scientists have developed a technique that produces high-quality and environmentally friendly bioplastics from fruit, vegetables and plant waste.
Experts at the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the University of Technology Delft have trained a certain type of bacteria to catalyse and convert sugars found in biomass into bioplastics, as well as other eco-friendly products.
While earlier versions of the technology battled with various technical issues, the most significant one being efficiency of sugars being converted; the new method ensures that the amount of sugars converted into processed materials is close to maximum.
The study, which was part of Jean-Paul Meijnen’s PhD thesis, achieved this by analysing the feeding patterns of the Pseudomonas putida S12 bacteria, and then training the bacteria in biodiversion. In a process known as hydrolysis lignocellulose, which contains lignin and cellulose – substances that give plants their firmness – is broken down into simple sugars that can then be converted into molecules that can be used in bioplastics and other compounds.
Meijnen said “Unfortunately, the production of plastics from bio-wastes is still quite an expensive process, because the waste material is not fully utilized,” but he added that this is likely to change very soon with the new increased level of efficiency.