Professor Maria Ascensão Reis leads the team of 36 researchers who in the Bioeng Group of the Unit of Applied Biomolecular Sciences (UCIBIO) transforms bacteria, unicellular microorganisms in bio degradable plastic.
These bacteria produce plastic from residues, such as whey, fruit concentrate residues, sewage sludge and municipal waste, waste that would have to be treated or incinerated, but which in this way are consumed by bacteria After being placed in bioreactors, in these closed containers chemical reactions occur due to the presence of the bacteria in the sequence of which biopolymers are produced.
Polyhidoxyalkanoates (PHA), which are very similar to conventional plastics, have the advantage of decomposing in four weeks against several centuries of conventional plastic. The high cost of producing this new type of plastic makes it impossible to invade the market. One of the main objectives of the work developed by the team of Professor Maria Ascensão Reis is now aimed at reducing the cost of this new product.