In Japan, an enzyme that devoured plastic waste

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<pre>In Japan, an enzyme that devoured plastic waste

The global crisis, associated with total pollution of the planet and especially the oceans with plastic waste, continues to worsen. Scientists around the world are actively studying the possibilities of solving this problem – and today we can already talk about some successes.

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the US Department of Energy discovered an enzyme – PETase, which decomposes plastic (PET) waste. The scientists decided to study its properties more deeply, in particular, the crystal lattice.

With the help of a synchrotron in the Diamond Light Source laboratory in the UK, which makes it possible to see individual atoms inside the structure of the enzyme, they began to irradiate them with X-ray radiation, 10 billion times the solar brightness. As a result, it was possible to create a 3D model of PETase with high resolution.

It was found that PETase is capable of destroying yet another kind of polyethylene – furandicarboxylate (PEF), which replaces glass beer bottles. The team continues to work on increasing the effectiveness of the unusual enzyme.

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