Israeli researchers: seaweed can serve as raw materials for the plastic industry

Israeli researchers: seaweed can serve as raw materials for the plastic industry

A new study by Tel Aviv University describes the process of developing bioplastics from microorganisms that feed on seaweed. At the same time, this type of plastic does not threaten with toxic waste and is self-processed into organic substances.

The United Nations has long been concerned about the extent of plastic pollution. Up to 90 per cent of all pollutants in our oceans are plastic, which has already formed entire “islands” in the world’s waters, threatening the wild world.

Of course, science has already invented an environmentally friendly alternative to irreplaceable material in human life, or so-called bioplastics – plastic obtained from renewable sources of biomass, such as vegetable fats and oils, corn starch or microbiomatter.

However, there is a “BUT”. The bioplastics also have an ecological price: cultivation of plants or bacteria for further synthesis of the polymer need fertile soil and fresh water, in short, scarce resources in many countries.

Israeli scientists have proposed a new raw material for the bioplastic industry – algae, which are eaten by single-celled microorganisms, adapted to life in salt water. As a result, polyhydroxyalkanoates belonging to the family of biodegradable plastics are synthesized.

This polymer has a wide range of physical and mechanical properties (biocompatibility, thermo-elasticity, piezoelectric and optical activity) and it is adopted to produce almost all types of plastic products – from household items to artificial human organs. And they decompose in natural conditions much faster than other plastics.

According to the researchers, the new study could revolutionize the world’s efforts to clean up the oceans, as their paper proved the possibility of producing bioplastics entirely based on marine resources, that is safe for the environment and for the marine inhabitants.