Technology sometimes brings us to a point which results into new breakthroughs. Take a look at this plastic bottle. Looks good enough, yes?
But are you going to feel the same way if we told you that this bottle has been created using poop? Changes things, doesn’t it? Who is the genius behind this disgusting idea? You can blame Micromidas, Inc. for coming up with this technology. The company is based in Sacramento, California and is making quite a progress on their project that deals with turning poop into plastic.
The company was founded back in 2008. At UC Davis, the UG engineers under the leadership of Professor Frank Loge were granted funding by P3 – People, Prosperity and the Planet. This grant program works under the umbrella of the Environmental Protection Agency. John Bissell, Chief Executive Officer said; ‘We were doing independent research to take on two really big issues. Sludge is a really big issue, and there was also the problem of providing [biodegradable], sustainable plastics at a reasonable price.’
The team makes use of the sludge from the wastewater treatment plant. They turn it into polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). The polyester can then be converted into biodegradable plastic material and well, this approach is definitely ingenious. We are tackling two problems simultaneously. The creation of PHA employs microbes which were manufactured by the team. These microbes are the reason that the carbon from sludge gets processed and the conversion into PHA is made possible.
A Bioprocess Engineer, Wade Nielson, said; ‘Basically, we want to have a large spread of wild-type bacteria. Our target is to isolate wild-type bacteria that work well together and work with different ratios of bacteria to create teams. There are some uses to the sludge right now, but they are less efficient than what we are hoping to do.’ The bacteria teams can convert sludge into plastic in about 18 hours.
John Bissell said; ‘While (PLA) is a great plastic, its selling price is four times that of the petroleum-based plastic. Our product will be priced comparatively to petroleum-based plastic. Literally, we are brewing plastic. It’s very similar to brewing beer or anything else.
Bissell further told that their prime target is to achieve the tertiary packaging application. These include the plastic which surrounds the DVD Rings and also surround packs of bottles.