Excellence in another area

Since the time of the Anthropocene, the place of man has induced an imbalance within the environment, remarkable in particular by pollution on Earth.
Population growth induces the accumulation of waste all over the world.
Plastic waste is a major concern in terms of the environment: plastics are used excessively and a lot of plastic waste is found in the oceans.
Conventional plastics, mainly used in the industry take many years during decomposition, are often not bio-sourced, i.e. come from oil production.
In addition, these types of plastics also produce toxins during their degradation.
The repercussions of these decomposing microplastics on marine flora and fauna are fatal.

And it’s not over!
Anthropogenic inputs have more than doubled the greenhouse gases concentration, since the industrial revolution.
It’s particularly the case for methane, a hydrocarbon with the chemical formula CH4. The main source of this gas is agricultural and comes from fermentation and the management of extra on farms.
Methane is also made by bacteria and methanogenic archaea in anaerobic environments.
Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, with a global warming potential up to 30 times higher.
This climate change provokes consequences on the environment (rising sea levels, melting glaciers…), but it can also modify biodiversity.

In a positive ecological approach, we looked for intermediate ways of producing plastics as well as methods of recycling waste from fermentation.
For this, we use the Ulva at the origin of green tides, as basic material for waste repurposing.

How to recycle the carbonaceous residues produced by the decomposing Ulva spp?

As a first step, we want to produce bioplastic, from natural materials and easily degradable in the biosphere.
For this, we use stranded Ulva and specific marine bacteria as substrates.
These bacteria can synthesize polyhydroxyalkanoate or PHA, from Ulva as a carbon source.
These PHA granules serve as the main components for the production of bioplastics.
We can also create recombinant bacteria using the tools of synthetic biology to produce these PHAs

In a second step, Ulva spp can be used for the anaerobic digestion process.
Anaerobic digestion is a booming practice: it transforms organic compounds into biogas + digestates.
Devoid of its sulfur components, the carbonaceous matter of Ulva algae, mixed with a large proportion of manure, can be used for the production of biogas and digestate.
The biogas can then be used as energy for multiple applications. The digestate can serve as fertilizer: another field that we want to exploit!

Thus, by focusing more specifically on the carbonaceous material of Ulva, we have developed our fields of recovery of algae, and not only its sulfur material - which is our main project -.
This allows for more optimal use of the Ulva. In addition, this development in our project allows a double recovery: both of our Ulva as the main substrate, but also by using other wastes and natural substitutes.
Our valuation ideas in this “Excellence in another area” part can be reused and developed in several application areas, industrial for example.
In addition, these first theoretical ideas can inspire future iGEM teams!

source : -,'oxyg%C3%A8ne%20dans%20l'air. - B. S. Saharan and al; Bioplastics For sustainable Development: a Review; International Journal of Microbial Resource Technology, Vol 1 N° 1; 2012