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Creating Bioplastics From Algae-Eating Microorganisms

Before talking about how the researchers at the Tel Aviv University in Israel have started to create bioplastic polymers from algae-eating microorganisms, we should know what bioplastic even is. Bioplastics are plastics derived from renewable sources such as woodchips, corn starch, food waste, and more. Sadly, fresh water is a must in order to make bioplastics, but many countries are deficient in that resource.

Seaweed Bioplastic (TreeHugger)

One example of such country is Israel- they do not have abundant supply of fresh water. Other countries lacking in fresh water are China and India, whose land masses are huge and so do their plastic consumption.

In Israel, researchers tried to solve this problem by using microorganisms that feed on seaweed to produce bioplastic polymers, also called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). These polymers are biodegradable and zero-toxic-waste. Moreover, seaweed can be bred in seawater, making it easy for any country- even those who lack fresh water- to create them.

Dr. Alexander Golberg (Google Scholars)

The study that contributed to this was led by Dr. Alexander Golberg and Prof. Michael Gozin from Tel Aviv University. This was published in the journal Bioresource Technology.

Golberg, a senior lecturer at TAU's The Department of Environmental Studies said, “Plastics take centuries to decay. So bottles, packaging, and bags accumulate into plastic ‘continents’ in the oceans, endangering animals and polluting the environment."

The process in which they have developed uses multi-cellular seaweed cultivated from the sea. The microorganisms eat algae and produce a polymer used to produce bioplastics. "The process we proposed will enable all countries to alter their petroleum-derived plastics to biodegradable plastics," Golberg added.


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