Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bioengineers succeed in producing plastics without the use of fossil fuels

Date:
November 26, 2009
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Scientists have succeeded in producing the polymers used for everyday plastics through bioengineering, rather than through the use of fossil fuel based chemicals, heralding the creation of environmentally conscious plastics.

Computer rendering of E. coli bacteria. A newly developed E. coli strain is capable of efficiently producing unnatural polymers, through a one-step fermentation process.
Credit: iStockphoto/Sebastian Kaulitzki

A team of pioneering South Korean scientists have succeeded in producing the polymers used for everyday plastics through bioengineering, rather than through the use of fossil fuel based chemicals. This groundbreaking research, which may now allow for the production of environmentally conscious plastics, is published in two papers in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering.

Polymers are molecules found in everyday life in the form of plastics and rubbers. The team, from the KAIST University and the Korean chemical company LG Chem, led by Professor Sang Yup Lee focused their research on polylactic acid (PLA), a bio-based polymer which holds the key to producing plastics through natural and renewable resources.

"The polyesters and other polymers we use everyday are mostly derived from fossil oils made through the refinery or chemical process," said Lee. "The idea of producing polymers from renewable biomass has attracted much attention due to the increasing concerns of environmental problems and the limited nature of fossil resources. PLA is considered a good alternative to petroleum based plastics as it is both biodegradable and has a low toxicity to humans."

Until now PLA has been produced in a two-step fermentation and chemical process of polymerization, which is both complex and expensive. Now, through the use of a metabolically engineered strain of E.coli, the team has developed a one-stage process which produces polylactic acid and its copolymers through direct fermentation. This makes the renewable production of PLA and lactate-containing copolymers cheaper and more commercially viable.

"By developing a strategy which combines metabolic engineering and enzyme engineering, we've developed an efficient bio-based one-step production process for PLA and its copolymers," said Lee. "This means that a developed E. coli strain is now capable of efficiently producing unnatural polymers, through a one-step fermentation process,"

This combined approach of systems-level metabolic engineering and enzyme engineering now allows for the production of polymer and polyester based products through direct microbial fermentation of renewable resources.

"Global warming and other environmental problems are urging us to develop sustainable processes based on renewable resources," concluded Lee. "This new strategy should be generally useful for developing other engineered organisms capable of producing various unnatural polymers by direct fermentation from renewable resources".


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Taek Ho Yang, Tae Wan Kim, Hye Ok Kang, Sang-Hyun Lee, Eun Jeong Lee, Sung-Chul Lim, Sun Ok Oh, Ae-Jin Song, Si Jae Park, Sang Yup Lee. Biosynthesis of polylactic acid and its copolymers using evolved propionate CoA transferase and PHA synthase. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 2010; 105 (1): 150 DOI: 10.1002/bit.22547
  2. Yu Kyung Jung, Tae Yong Kim, Si Jae Park, Sang Yup Lee. Metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli for the production of polylactic acid and its copolymers. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 2010; 105 (1): 161 DOI: 10.1002/bit.22548

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Bioengineers succeed in producing plastics without the use of fossil fuels." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123083702.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2009, November 26). Bioengineers succeed in producing plastics without the use of fossil fuels. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123083702.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Bioengineers succeed in producing plastics without the use of fossil fuels." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123083702.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Organic Fertilizer Helps Reforestation of Monarch Butterflies’ Winter Retreat

New Organic Fertilizer Helps Reforestation of Monarch Butterflies’ Winter Retreat

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) Using an organic fertiliser, a conservationist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), leads an award-winning project to reforest the sanctuary of monarch butterflies. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins