06 July 2014

Microbes – The New Bioplastic Factories

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European scientists are experimenting with bacteria and algae and turn them into bioplastic factories. Their vision: these microorganisms should produce a large portion of our plastic materials without any petroleum.

Scientists in Spain are growing bacteria that can transform organic waste into polymers inside their cells. And in Holland researchers are experimenting with algae which can also produce bioplastic components. Are these microorganisms the source of the plastic materials of the future?

As oil becomes scarcer and more expensive, the European Commission is funding a number of initiatives that could lead to the production of plastic material without the usage of crude oil. But equally important for a sustainable new product is the prevention of any additional strain on agricultural land resources. Therefore, in both these initiatives, bioplastics are not coming from the field, but produced in the laboratory or in a bio-chemical unit.

The aim of the scientists is to produce bioplastics on scale, and both the project on bacteria (called SYNPOL) and on the algae (named SPLASH) are working with candidates that could revolutionize the production of plastics in the near future. 

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