Scottish scientists have developed a unique way to recycle plastic waste. With the help of genetically modified bacteria, it was turned into a flavoring agent, according to The Guardian.
Vanillin is an organic substance, colorless needle crystals with a vanilla smell. The chemical formula of vanillin is C8H8O3. Its molecule contains aldehyde, ether and phenolic functional groups. Vanillin itself is found as a glycoside in the fruits and leaves of plants of the genus Vanilla and is the main component of vanilla extract.
In general, it is usually extracted naturally from vanilla beans or produced synthetically. About 85% of vanillin today is made from chemicals derived from fossil fuels. But the demand for vanilla flavor is growing faster than the volume of production is increasing. And the use of fossil materials is not sustainable.
To solve the problem, scientists have developed a way to convert plastic waste into vanillin. The method also solves the problem of plastic waste pollution. Previous experiments have shown how to isolate the main constituent known as terephthalic acid from the polyethylene terephthalate compounds from which plastic bottles are made.
Two researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland have genetically engineered bacteria to convert terephthalic acid to vanillin. The fact is that both substances have a similar chemical composition. As a result, bacteria only need to make subtle changes in the number of hydrogen and oxygen atoms associated with the same carbon skeleton.
The study, published in the journal Green Chemistry, used modified E. coli bacteria to convert terephthalic acid to vanillin. According to Wallace, the scientists heated the bacterial broth to 37 ° C throughout the day, under the same conditions as brewing. This converted 79% of the acid into flavor.