Bioplastic production: A technology breakthrough

On December 23, 2021, the Ministry of Industry and Trade accepted the project “Research on making recombinant biological products to synthesize Bioplastics from seafood processing by-products” code: DT.08.19/CNSHCB, chaired by the Institute Biotechnology - Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, directed by Dr. Nguyen Thi Da. The topic belongs to the Project on Development and Application of biotechnology in the processing industry until 2020. The study was carried out with the goal of building a technological process, equipment model and production of biological products capable of synthesizing Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) bioplastics over 50%.

Dr. Nguyen Thi Da, project leader, said that plastics can be considered the most widely used man-made material today. They are necessary in almost all areas of human life because of their well-known characteristic properties: ductility, strength, water resistance, low electrical and thermal conductivity.

However, the monomers (which are small molecules that can be joined together in a repeating fashion, thereby forming more complex molecules) for most plastics such as polyester, polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene from fossil hydrocarbons and do not decompose in nature, so they cause serious pollution, affecting the natural environment as well as human life.

Therefore, the search and discovery of bioplastics has opened a new door, attracting the attention of researchers around the world.Bioplastics have many advantages over conventional plastics of petrochemical origin (petrochemical plastics) due to their inherent biodegradability, sustainability and eco-friendly properties, which help conserve limited fossil fuel resources and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, thereby becoming an important factor for sustainable development.

Acceptance of the topic at the Institute of Biotechnology

Currently, globally, there are nearly 70 million tons of seafood being processed in filet, frozen or canned form. According to statistics, the total seafood production of Vietnam is about 7 million tons/year, of which by-products account for about 15-20% (more than 1 million tons). However, this source of waste has not been reused much, but a large amount is discharged into the environment, causing serious pollution. "Therefore, it is very necessary to research and develop technology to produce bioplastics with by-products in the country," said Dr. Nguyen Thi Da.

The microbial products of the topic

The research team investigated the biosynthesis of PHA of all 4 strains (DV01, G505, G515, G300) on fish by-product nutrition and the two strains with the highest bioplastic content were GB515 (7,325%)) and strain DV01 (30.4%). At the same time, factors affecting the process of culturing, collecting spores to make preparations and storage conditions for preparations from recombinant strains were studied; and a technological process and equipment model built for making microbiological products on pilot scale of 100 liters/batch, and a process developed to process pangasius waste as fermented materials.

The Acceptance Council highly appreciated the efforts and enthusiasm of the research team, helping Vietnam to get closer to new and modern technologies.The topic has good potential for development and application because bioplastic products are considered a worldwide trend, which will soon replace polymer plastics with complete degradability and environmental friendliness.

In the coming time, the research team proposes to the Ministry of Industry and Trade to continue providing financial support for the research unit to perfect the technology and transfer it to domestic enterprises.

Source: Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade
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Translated by Phuong Ha
Link to Vietnamese version

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