Amazonian Fungus Eats Polyurethane
A fungus from the Amazonian rainforest can break down and consume polyurethane, a polymer discovered in 1937 by scientists at IG Farben. Humans use 12M metric tons of polyurethane every year, often for disposable goods, and are running out of places to dump it all. The fungus, Pestalotiopsis microspora, could help dispose of the material; it even works in anaerobic environment, like the bottom of a landfill.
The properties of the fungus were uncovered by student researchers led by molecular biochemistry professor Scott Strobel as part of Yale's annual Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory.
In The Plastic Eaters, Gerry Davis and Kit Pedlar wrote about a biological time bomb that could destroy necessary infrastructure.
"On the surface, in the freezing December air, the smell of the rotting plastic began to hang permanently in the air. A cloying, wet, rotting smell similar to the smell of long-dead flesh. It filled streets and homes, basements and factories. Traffic lights failed, causing irresolvable jams.... The breakdown of plastic spread into Broadcasting House.... A gas main with polypropylene seals on its pressure regulators erupted into flame.... Plastic cold-water pipes softened, ballooned, and burst, flooding into shops, homes, and restaurants.
"Slowly and inexorably, the rate of dissolution increased; failures occurred in increasing succession until, within forty-eight hours, the centre of London had become a freezing chaos without light, heat, or communication."
Earlier still, Michael Crichton wrote about it in his 1969 novel The Andromeda Strain.
"the organism...Mutated to a noninfectious form. And perhaps it is still mutating. Now it is no longer directly harmful to man, but it eats rubber gaskets."
Hall nodded. "National guardsmen could be on the ground, and not be harmed. But the pilot had his aircraft destroyed because the plastic was dissolved before his eyes."
(Read more about Crichton's plastic-eating bacteria)
Via Co.Exist; thanks to Winchell Chung for the tip and a reference on this story.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/2/2012)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
3D Printed Damascus Steel Now Possible
'... lined with durite, that strange close-packed laboratory product.' - Robert Heinlein, 1939.
3D Printing Of Metallic Glass
Draw Circuits With Conductive Ink
'It's rewiring things... squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon along the printed circuitry.'
How To Encode The 'Memory' Of Materials
'Just jar it, and it falls into that structure like a rubber figure returning to shape.' - Samuel R. Delany, 1966.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Jet-Powered Flying Suits Tested By Navy
'With his motor in operation, he moves like a diver, head foremost...'
Pub Installs Electrified Fence Around Bar
'I start twelve immensely strong wires--naked, not insulated --from a big dynamo...'
What Does A Tesla Full Self-Driving Car See?
'All objects within my panoramic gaze trembled and vibrated like quick motion pictures...'
BioVYZR Is Ready, Anti-Covid19 PAPR Lovers
'Some clad in the insulated space-suits, with their transparent glassite helmets.'
Tesla Will Have Metal Gear Snake Autocoupler, Musk Confirms
'Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter.'
Starlink Satellites Leading Edge On-Orbit Debris Mitigation
Propulsion-assisted orbital decay, brought to you by SpaceX.
Healight Ultraviolet Endotracheal Device Has Covid-19 Treatment Potential
'He applied the tip of the instrument to the interior of the wound...'
Parents Use AI To See One Last Message From Their Deceased Son
'...what's to keep me from showing face, Man?'
Satoshi Tomizu Creates Pocket Universes And Worldcraft Bubbles In Glass
'The Worldcraft bubble glittered, catching the light...'
Space Hero Inc. Offers Trip To ISS As Reality Show Prize
'This is Elmer Schmitz, presenting to you the finalists in our Aviation Quiz Program...'
I Love Ceiling-Mounted Robots
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'
Armano Remote Control Excavator
'The bulldozer moved through the... mine... '
OK, NASA 3D Printer Of Food Not Yet Star Trek Food Synthesizer
Maybe not, but we're seeing definite progress.
Kelly Clarkson Show Like Black Mirror '15 Million Merits'
'These people are pieces of software called avatars.'
Salto Jumping Robot Now Sticks Landing!
'Lucky touched the leap knob and the hopper's leg retracted.'
Gyroscopic Median-Straddling Mass Transit Vehicles
'It was among these leviathans that the little gyrocar was daring to thrust its puny self...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories