The scientists behind re-engineering of the plastic-guzzling enzyme PETase have now gone a step further. These scientists have created an enzyme medley, which is up to six times faster to digest plastic.
Another enzyme, found in the same rubbish dwelling bacterium like PETase, has been combined with the latter to speed up the disintegration of plastic. PETase disintegrates polyethylene terephthalate into its building blocks. This creates an opportunity to reprocess plastic infinitely and reduce greenhouse gases and plastic pollution driving climate change.
Meanwhile, PET is the commonly used thermoplastic to make clothing, carpets, and single-use drink bottles. It takes hundreds of years for PET to disintegrate in the environment, but PETase can reduce this process to days.
Discovery of Plastic-eating PETase first step in Plastic Recycling revolution
With the discovery of PETase, it set up the prospect of a revolution in plastic recycling, thereby creating a potential low-energy solution to deal with plastic waste. To establish this, the natural PETase enzyme engineered in the laboratory featured to be almost 20 percent faster at disintegrating PET.
Going further, the same team of scientists have combined PETase and a second enzyme MHETase, for much bigger improvements. The mixing of PETase and MHETase doubled the speed of breakdown of PET, and designing a connection between the two enzymes created a super-enzyme, which further increased the speed of the activity by three times.
The study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was co-led by scientists who engineered PETase.
“In the natural phenomenon, PETase attacks the surface of the plastic and MHETase chops it further. Likewise, for it seemed natural if the two enzymes could be used together, to mimic the natural phenomenon,” opine the associates of the study.