Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland have created an experimental method that converts treated polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into vanillin, the primary ingredient extracted from vanilla beans that creates the characteristic taste and smell of vanilla, per ZME Science.
Related: MilliporeSigma's Vanillin acetate, ≥98%, FG
To turn PET into vanillin, researches engineered a strain of E. coli to consume terephthalic acid, a molecule derived from PET, and transform the substance in vanillin, through a series of chemical reactions.
The study shows promise, as one experiment created vanillin which should be fit for human consumption from a used plastic bottle through the strain of E. coli.
Researchers plan to continue this study through performing further strain engineering, process optimization and extend the pathway to other metabolites to turn plastic into other compounds.
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