|Category||AgTech, Sustainability & Environment|
|Current development stage||General list: TRL3 Experimental proof of concept|
|Collaboration Opportunity||Sponsored Research with an option to License Research Results|
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the second most commonly produced plastic type today. More than 30 million tons were produced in 2019 and a market projected to continually grow. Indeed, by 2028, the PET production industry will be worth $76 billion in the US alone. The PET industry, however, is not sustainable. First, PET accumulation in the environment is creating an environmental crisis. Second, the raw materials for PET production, terephthalic acid (TPA) and ethylene glycol (EG), are obtained from fossil fuels. Thus, governmental taxes are now imposed or will be imposed in the western world to achieve a sustainable PET industry.
PET hydrolytic enzymes (PHEs) have been discovered, however they have limited catalytic efficiency. Either they are slow or completely unable to break down high crystallinity commercial PET. We have developed a selection system that enables the fast detection and isolation of PHEs in high-throughput. With this system we are able to test many different engineering designs towards creating highly efficient and stable PHEs.
The research team engineered a low cost and faster biological screening system for PHE activity. This will allow the research team to test thousands of enzymes in a short time, for their capacity to hydrolyze the ester bond found PET without purification, bypassing the current screening capacity by 100-fold.
By utilizing engineered cells as a screening and in vivo directed evolution platform the researchers are able to create optimized PET hydrolyzing enzymes.
The researchers are looking for sponsored research funding from an industry partner interested in receiving an option to license the technology developed at the end of the research period.