Degradation of Natural Rubber
Our project is to develop an innovative
and sustainable solution for a significant environmental
Current recycling techniques demand high energy consumption, and are completely overwhelmed by the annual amount of rubber waste. In addition, natural rubber degradation may take up to 1000 years.
We aim to accelerate this process by genetically engineering microorganisms to express and secrete two crucial enzymes for the degradation of natural rubber: RoxA (Rubber oxygenase) and Lcp (Latex clearing protein).
Tires and several other products, however, are composed by vulcanized rubber, which ensures its durability and increase its elasticity and strength. In this regard, for vulcanized rubber degradation, the project may include a pre-treatment, which uses Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, bacteria that naturally devulcanizes rubber. Both of these processes will be scaled up in bioreactors.
Both of these processes will be scaled up in bioreactors!
Our project was designed to combat a serious environmental problem worldwide: the accumulation of rubber products waste. For this end, we designed a simple DNA circuit to be expressed in a model bacteria, E.coli. The designed DNA circuit will co-express two essential enzymes for rubber degradation, Lcp and RoxA, followed by their exportation – guaranteeing maximum contact with the threated materials.
Given the high potential for an industrial application, we have investigated possible business strategies that could turn our project into a competitive startup. As a first step, we have met with warehouses where waste tires are treated and discarded to both promote our ideas and learn more on how to implement our system into their reality. Furthermore, we applied an circular business model.
We also contributed with the Interlab Study, using DH5α E Coli with a backbone plasmid pSB1C3 to measure the promter strengths of three promoters from the Anderson's library. We showed differences and similarities when compared to the original experiments.
We thank our sponsors for all support!