Research groups at Keio University and Kyoto Institute of Technology have developed a method to increase the decomposition rate of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) degrading enzyme by more than 100 times.

 PET is used all over the world as a material for PET bottles, clothes, etc., but it is an environmental problem because it accumulates without being decomposed in the environment, and there is an urgent need to solve it.

 So far, this research group has discovered microorganisms that grow on PET as a nutrient source, and identified PETase, an enzyme that exhibits high specificity for PET, ahead of the rest of the world.However, its activity was low and it was not yet usable for practical use.
One of the causes of low PETase activity is that PETase exhibits water-soluble properties (hydrophilicity), while PET exhibits water-insoluble properties (hydrophobic properties), so contact between them is unlikely to occur. Can be mentioned.Therefore, this research group thought that if the PET surface could be coated with hydrophilic molecules, the contact with PETase would be improved, and the interface as a molecule connecting hydrophilic PETase and hydrophobic PET. The use of an activator (a substance having a hydrophilic part and a hydrophobic part in one molecule) was examined.

 For the surfactant, select a general molecule such as that used in detergents.Under the condition that this was added, the effect on PET decomposition activity was investigated.As a result, it was found that when a negatively charged surfactant was added, the activity of PETase was remarkably improved, and the maximum was 100 times or more.The concentration of the required surfactant is extremely low at only 0.005%, and it can be said that it is a very simple and efficient method for accelerating PET decomposition.

 The results of this research can dramatically improve the PET decomposition rate of enzymes with a simple operation, which will greatly contribute to the practical application of bio-recycling technology for used PET products and the resolution of environmental pollution caused by waste PET. There is expected.

Paper information:[Chem Sus Chem] Acceleration of Enzymatic Degradation of Poly (ethylene terephthalate) by Surface Coating with Anionic Surfactants

Keio University
Kyoto Institute of Technology

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