A Korean research team has successfully developed a method to manufacture plastic materials with bacteria. Much attention is being paid to whether or not the method will lead to the replacement of plastic products made from petrochemicals with biochemical products.
On August 5, a research team led by Dr. Woo Han-min from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology and Sim Sang-joon, a professor from Korea University, announced that they developed a technique to directly produce succinic acid from microalgae using genetically-modified bacteria. As a core precursor to bio-chemical materials, succinic acid can be utilized in plastic, coating materials, synthetic plasticizers, urethane, and solvents through additional chemical reactions.
The newly-developed bacteria are an improved version of Corynebacterium glutamicum, which is utilized in the production of amino acids and hexane. It is possible to produce highly-efficient succinic acid by directly making amylase. The team anticipates that their method is expected to be commercialized easily, since succinic acid has been used in existing industries, including the food industry.
Dr. Woo said, “This study was aimed at developing a technique to make next-gen sustainable bio-chemical products that can respond to the depletion of fossil fuels and climate change.”
The research findings were first published online on July 24 by Scientific Reports, an online open access scientific journal published by the Nature Publishing Group.