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Enzymes Could Be The Solution To Plastic Waste

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a new enzyme that can break plastic down in a matter of hours. This is a big contrast to other attempts at finally finding a way to deal with the mountains of plastic that the economy generates. 

Other attempts involved bacteria, but those also ran into problems with only being suitable for very specific types of plastic. 

This new enzyme is very different, and the development involved computer AI to predict how certain enzyme mutations might work out. 

A report in Treehugger had some interesting context on this. 

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“Hal Alper, a professor at the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering at UT Austin, and his team developed an upgrade, using a "machine learning model to generate novel mutations to a natural enzyme called PETase that allows bacteria to degrade PET plastics."

The great thing about this new enzyme is that it works very well at reasonable temperatures of about 86 Fahrenheit.

So far, researchers have successfully used this enzyme on over 50 types of plastic, and they have all shown excellent results within a week. 

Chris is one of GreenCitizen’s writers who has been a long-time advocate of individual responsibility when it comes to the environment. He shares GreenCitizen's passion for making the world a better place every day of the year.


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