A new Tel Aviv University (TAU) study describes a process to make bioplastic polymers that don’t require land or fresh water—the polymer is derived from microorganisms (Haloferax mediterranei) that feed on seaweed. The polymers are biodegradable, produce zero toxic waste and recycle into organic waste.
The invention was the result of a multidisciplinary collaboration between Dr. Alexander Golberg of TAU’s Porter School of Environmental and Earth Sciences and Prof. Michael Gozin of TAU’s School of Chemistry. Their research was recently published in the journal Bioresource Technology.
A partial solution to the plastic epidemic is bioplastics, which don’t use petroleum and degrade quickly. But bioplastics also have an environmental price: To grow the plants or the bacteria to make the plastic requires fertile soil and fresh water, which many countries, including Israel, don’t have. Our new process produces ‘plastic’ from marine microorganisms that completely recycle into organic waste.—Dr. Golberg
The researchers harnessed microorganisms that feed on seaweed to produce a bioplastic polymer called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA).
The research was partially funded by the TAU-Triangle Regional R&D Center in Kfar Kara under the academic auspices of Tel Aviv University, and by the Israeli Ministry of Energy and Infrastructures.
Supratim Ghosh, Rima Gnaim, Semion Greiserman, Ludmila Fadeev, Michael Gozin, Alexander Golberg (2018) “Macroalgal biomass subcritical hydrolysates for the production of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) by Haloferax mediterranei,” Bioresource Technology, Volume 271, Pages 166-173, doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2018.09.108