University of Texas at Austin researchers create enzyme to break down plastics quickly

May 10, 2022 |

In Texas, an enzyme variant created by engineers and scientists at The University of Texas at Austin can break down environment-throttling plastics that typically take centuries to degrade in just a matter of hours to days.

This discovery, published in Nature, could help solve one of the world’s most pressing environmental problems: what to do with the billions of tons of plastic waste piling up in landfills and polluting our natural lands and water. The enzyme has the potential to supercharge recycling on a large scale that would allow major industries to reduce their environmental impact by recovering and reusing plastics at the molecular level.

The enzyme was able to complete a “circular process” of breaking down the plastic into smaller parts (depolymerization) and then chemically putting it back together (repolymerization). In some cases, these plastics can be fully broken down to monomers in as little as 24 hours.

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Category: Research

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