Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident as posted in the Guardian recently on April 16th! The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles.
The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug.
The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. “What actually turned out was we improved the enzyme, which was a bit of a shock,” said Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research. “It’s great and a real finding.”
The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process.
“What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic,” said McGeehan. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.”
About 1m plastic bottles are sold each minute around the globe and, with just 14% recycled, many end up in the oceans where they have polluted even the remotest parts, harming marine life and potentially people who eat seafood. “It is incredibly resistant to degradation. Some of those images are horrific,” said McGeehan. “It is one of these wonder materials that has been made a little bit too well.”
Original link here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/16/scientists-accidentally-create-mutant-enzyme-that-eats-plastic-bottles
Based out of the waterfront partnership of Baltimore, Maryland and going by the name “Professor & Mr. Trash Wheel” these devices are vacuuming plastic from our oceans much like a Roomba for waterways. They operate exclusively on the energy they get from sunlight and water. Collecting litter and debris, keeping trash from winding up in the ocean, the device uses two trash containment booms in order to direct the waste up a conveyor belt and into the dumpster barge on the other end.
Since being installed, the trash wheels have kept over one millions pounds of litter out of the Atlantic ocean!
Thanks again to @mchllsong for the share!
To visit a link to the YouTube video from Mashable go here;
Biocarbon Engineering, headed by CEO Lauren Fletcher is a company seeking to plant 1 BILLION trees every year using drone technology. By mapping out a grid in deforested regions, a single operator can control and automate up to 15 drones which can put in roughly 360 current-standard man hours of tree planting each day. Each drone precisely propels down biodegradable seedpods that are designed to enhance germination success. With their research and development they are looking to overcome varied challenging environments, manage large-scale projects and utilize their drone technology for precision planting to help restore entire ecosystems for the planet.
Their team is comprised of experts in the fields of physics, environmental engineering, biomedical engineering, UAV swarm intelligence, UAV design and control, environmental resource management, forestry maintenance, electrical engineering, mechatronics, robotics, automation engineering, environmental data analysis and more.
For more information visit their website: https://www.biocarbonengineering.com
CEF FFT: Imagine a world where we see their goal met of 1 billion trees planted per year. What kind of effect would that have in drawing down carbon emissions?
A startup in India is capturing the black particles that float in air pollution and turning them into ink.
Anirudh Sharma was at a conference in India when he noticed black particles accumulating on his white shirt. The specks settling on him were from pollution in the surrounding air.
Byproducts from burning fossil fuels such as gasoline and coal are causing health problems and climate effects around the world, especially in India’s growing cities. In that moment a few years ago, though, Sharma saw the pollution particles as something simpler: A coloring agent.
He went back to MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was a graduate student focused on augmented reality, and began working on an idea to turn carbon pollution into ink. Using candle soot to start, he came up with a prototype. After finishing his master’s degree, he went back to India and in 2016 co-founded a collaborative called Graviky Labs to continue working on Air-Ink and other ideas.
They developed a device that can be fitted onto the exhaust pipe of a car or portable generator and collected the soot that forms from burning diesel fuel. By mixing the fine black powder with solvents, they produced ink that then went into bottles and markers.
Kaushik says Air-Ink has a dual benefit: “It’s not just that we’re recycling that material into inks. What we are also doing is replacing the carbon black that otherwise would have been used to make black inks.” Manufacturers typically use the soot known as carbon black in rubber, ink, paints, and carbon paper.
After posting their endeavor on Kickstarter earlier this year, the team brought in $41,000—nearly three times the donations they sought to start producing Air-Ink in larger quantities. Through a sponsorship from a beer company, they’d already begun distributing the ink to artists, who created public pieces in London, Singapore, and other cities.
For the full article by Christina Nunez visit this link: https://relay.nationalgeographic.com/proxy/distribution/public/amp/2017/07/chasing-genius-air-ink-carbon-pollution-graviky
The single biggest pollution problem facing our ocean is microfiber: trillions of pieces of tiny fibers flowing into the ocean – every time we use our washing machines. Our clothing is breaking up, sending this microfiber (made of plastic and chemical-covered non-plastics) out with the drain water – just one fleece jacket could shed up to 250,000 pieces per garment per wash [source]. New York City, alone, could have 6.8 billion microfibers flowing into its harbor every day. We are all contributing to this problem. Learn more about the problem of microfiber pollution here. http://rozaliaproject.org/stop-microfiber-pollution/
Let us welcome the “OBRIST C-Transformer.” It is a machine that founder Frank Obrist says “will help nature do what nature does best. Just a little bit faster. For our future.”
Although the machine is in prototype, the team has offered details on how it will operate: “Navigating through the forest, the OBRIST C-Transformer will char trunks of old trees and dig the biochar into the forest soil, binding its carbon. This very fertile soil will become the nursery for fresh tree seeds to that new vegetation can immediately start to grow. It will also have the capability to plant new trees within the fertile soil that is created.
Obrist has stated that they work closely with permaculture experts and scientists who continuously make sure that the natural balance of the environment is maintained. He says they also use a “thrice-conducted spiral route” for the OBRIST C-Transformer that will ensure every area will only be prepared and processed once every 45 years. They offer a video explanation and further details to answer some of our immediate questions.
Go through their “choose-your-own-adventure” style FAQ section and start the conversation by sharing your ideas! They are openly admitting that there are some issues still needing to be resolved. You can also check out input from other people.
Check out this project online and decide how you would like to get involved. Watch over, support the OBRIST C-Transformer Crowdfunding project that seeks to protect our world and humanity.
A UK-based team of researchers has created a graphene-based sieve capable of removing salt from seawater.
The sought-after development could aid the millions of people without ready access to clean drinking water.
The promising graphene oxide sieve could be highly efficient at filtering salts, and will now be tested against existing desalination membranes.
It has previously been difficult to manufacture graphene-based barriers on an industrial scale.
Reporting their results in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, scientists from the University of Manchester, led by Dr Rahul Nair, show how they solved some of the challenges by using a chemical derivative called graphene oxide.
Isolated and characterised by a University of Manchester-led team in 2004, graphene comprises a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. Its unusual properties, such as extraordinary tensile strength and electrical conductivity, have earmarked it as one of the most promising materials for future applications.
But it has been difficult to produce large quantities of single-layer graphene using existing methods, such as chemical vapour deposition (CVD). Current production routes are also quite costly.
On the other hand, said Dr Nair, “graphene oxide can be produced by simple oxidation in the lab”.
He told BBC News: “As an ink or solution, we can compose it on a substrate or porous material. Then we can use it as a membrane.
“In terms of scalability and the cost of the material, graphene oxide has a potential advantage over single-layered graphene.”
In the race to find solutions to critical water issues, the launch of a new cost-effective water quality sensor device by Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries|Clarkson University is the first step in overcoming hurdles of historically prohibitive costs for long-term water resource monitoring.
The installation of the Institute’s newest generation of River and Estuary Observatory Network (REON II) sensor arrays signifies the passing of the baton from the science lab to the river as they run ahead, complementing government capacity to invest in “wiring” the river for cleaner water.
The REON II device or “Sonde,” deployed on the banks of the Hudson River in New Hamburg, N.Y., is providing real-time data called for by scientists to better understand the complex relationship between humans, the built environment and our fragile waterways.
It is one of 37 sensor stations currently in place in the Hudson and St. Lawrence river watersheds, making REON one of the world’s most robust resources of real-time data. The goal of the REON research team to develop affordable, scalable, low-profile sensor networks and its potential for making water sensor technology universal, could be transformational to the field of environmental science.
CEF FFT: The more up-to-date and accurate the data we can collect on the water quality of rivers and estuaries, the more we can become aware of the impact our civilization has on these precious sources of life.
Founded by Richard Hardiman, Ranmarine Technology uses WasteShark — 24-hour on-the-water drones. The solar-powered drones collect detritus, marine waste and chemical substances from ports and canals.
Founded in 2015 in South Africa, the company was later re-incorporated in the Netherlands at the start of last year as RanMarine Technology BV.
Hardiman is based in Rotterdam. He moved there after being selected for PortXL Rotterdam’s maritime accelerator (portxl.org) in February last year. The startup was one of 12 companies selected from 1000 startups worldwide.
In July last year the startup began a pilot with the Port of Rotterdam to test both the use of autonomous surface vessels in their waters and how the product actually works in “high trafficked waters”. The pilot was successfully completed last month.
There are currently 3 different types of the Waste Shark products: the WasteShark, the Great WasteShark and the ChemShark.
Check out their website https://www.ranmarine.io/ for more info and videos!