Sunday, August 14

Salmon sperm and vegetable oil: China discovers how to make eco-friendly plastic with these two ingredients

We know that one of the biggest challenges in combating climate change is getting rid of traditional plastics, something that seems impossible today. But little progress is being made, and China has come up with another one that is less peculiar: use vegetable oil and salmon semen to make plastics that respect the environment.

Use, wet and reuse

The discovery was made by a team from Tianjin University, looking for ways to make biodegradable plastic that is easier to recycle than those made from algae. And the result has been to mix DNA from salmon sperm with chemical agents present in vegetable oils to create a new type of eco-plastic.

This mixture generates a so-called ‘hydrogel’, which can be molded and dried into a rigid shape. The resulting plastic generates 97% less emissions and if it sinks in water it becomes moldable again in other ways, so that recycling problems are solved. Although of course, that means that the plastic must be kept dry or find a way to waterproof it without making it polluting.

But the million dollar question is: will we have to “put to work” millions of salmon to be able to make these plastics on an industrial scale? It is not the plan, because what is extracted from the sperm of the salmon is the DNA and that can be found in much more organic material (We speak of crop residues or bacteria). If those responsible can replicate this with DNA from other sources, the salmon will be able to breathe easy.

Image | Marcos Paulo Prado

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