The Anonymous Widower

The Diamond Light Source And PETase

When I was writing Diamond Synchrotron Sparkles And Shows Its Value To UK Economy, I came across a reference to PETase, in an article in Chemistry World, where this was said about the Diamond Light Source.

‘It is the facilities in the UK that really make the difference and make us a world leader,’ comments John McGeehan, professor of structural biology at the University of Portsmouth.

His team has used Diamond to study the bacterial enzyme PETase, which digests plastic. ‘Diamond’s I23 [long-wave macromolecular crystallography] beamline is unique in the world. It allowed us to solve the 3D structure of the PET-degrading enzyme, first found in plastic dumps in Japan in 2016. Three years ago it was the highest resolution image of the enzyme measured and remains so today. Having this information allows us to understand how the enzyme works, and how to make it work faster and better.’

As a result, the team has been able to visualise the active site of the enzyme and how it consumes plastic. The researchers discovered that the active site was slightly wider than cutinase, a similar enzyme that bacteria use to break down natural plant polyesters. ‘The technology leading from this research means plastic waste can be broken down and put back together into bottles (infinite recycling), or can be made into higher value products such as resins for wind turbine blades,’ says McGeehan. Patents are pending.

Note, that PET is polyethylene terephthalate, which is a very common plastic used to make fabric (Terylene/Dacron) and packaging.

Now that is what I call recycling!

October 24, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 1 Comment

How To Build A Liverpool-Style Optical Bench

When I worked at ICI in Runcorn, one of the guys had developed a very accurate instrument for measuring trace chemicals in a dirty process stream. I remember one of these instruments was used to measure water in parts per million in methyl methaculate, which is the misnomer or base chemical for Perspex.

All the optical compliments needed to be mounted on a firm base, so a metre length of nine-inch C-section steel beam was chosen. The surface was then machined flat to a high accuracy.

In the end they found that instead of using new beams, old ones decades-old from the depths of a scrap yard gave better accuracy as the steel had all crystallised out. Machined and spray-painted no-one knew their history.

But they were superb instruments and ICI even sold them abroad.

October 14, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wiltshire’s Recycled Railway Sleepers A UK First

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first paragraph.

Railway sleepers made of recycled bottles, food packaging and unwanted plastics have been installed on a mainline railway for the first time.

This paragraph describes their durability.

The new railway sleepers are designed to be used for 50 years as they do not split, rot or degrade, and can resist water, oil, chemicals and fungi.

The new sleepers would appear to be an advance on wood and concrete in certain applications.

Conclusion

This seems to be a good example of creative recycling.

July 8, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Turning Waste Plastic Into Hydrogen – Is This The Future?

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on H2 View.

This paragraph is a description of the process from Myles Kitcher of Peel L&P Environmental.

At Peel L&P Environmental we’ve been working with PowerHouse Energy who have developed a world first plastic to hydrogen technology. The first plant at Protos, our strategic energy and resource hub in Cheshire, is due to start construction later this year. It will take unrecyclable waste plastic – destined for landfill, or worse export overseas – and use it to create a local source of clean hydrogen to fuel buses, Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and cars. Not only will this help reduce air pollution and improve air quality on local roads, it’s helping us deal with the pressing problem of plastic waste.

This sounds like an eminently sensible way of dealing with unrecyclable waste plastic.

July 31, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Wrong Kind Of Bleach?

This article on Railnews is entitled 9 September: News In Brief.

It has the following sub-title.

Wrong Bleach Took Caledonian Sleepers Out Of Service

This is the first sentence.

Cleabers who used the wrong specification of bleach in the toilets and shower rooms on Caledonian Sleepers caused significant damage after the chemicals reacted with stainless steel pipes,

To my knowledge stainless steel, especially when it contains increased levels of chromium and some molybdenum, can be very proof to attack from most substances.

Look at this Butler Shba cutlery made in Sheffield from stainless steel with black Delrin plastic handles, which have seen continuous use in my household for fifty years.

Now that’s what I call stainless steel!

Perhaps, the Spanish used the wrong type of stainless steel?

Delrin is a form of polyoxymethylene, which is an engineering plastic.

This plastic has a wide spectrum of usage, including in zips, bagpipes and metered dose inhalers, to name just three of hundreds.

September 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Donald Trump: ‘Make Plastic Straws Great Again’

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Energy Live.News.

This is the first two paragraphs.

US President Donald Trump has raised nearly $500,000 (£411,000) for his re-election campaign by selling plastic straws.

The branded straws, released in Republican Party-red, were launched on the 19th of July, selling out in a matter of hours before being restocked.

The site also links to another post, which is entitled. President Trump: ‘Wind turbines cause cancer’.

I am a reasonably knowledgeable engineer and scientist and know a Compleat Wanker, when I see one

How can so many Americans take this idiot seriously?

August 9, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Articles In Today’s Times

In addition to World’s Top Wealth Fund Puts Billions Into Britain, there were other articles worth blogging about in today’s copy of The Times.

Build New Homes Away From Roads, Heath Watchdog Says

Surely, this very sensible! The distance can of course be vertical!

Plastic Packaging Used To Make Car Parts In Upcycling Revolution

Scientists working for the US Department of Defense have shown it is possible to convert recycled PET bottles and other packaging into useful long-life products.

Corbyn’s Favourite Firebrand Is Suspended In Antisemitism Row

My father believed that there was little different between the extreme left as represented by Stalin and the extreme right as represented by Hitler.

February 28, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Environmentally-Friendly Dry Cleaning

In the late-1960s, when I worked for ICI, the company was very worried about the effect of dry-cleaning chemicals on the health of workers and was constantly looking for better chemicals.

I suspect as that was fifty years ago, that the dry-cleaning process itself is very much more envionmentally friendly.

But look at these trousers, that I have just brought back from the dry cleaners.

There are two things wrong with the packaging.

The awful wire coat hangers, which are a nuisance to deal with and go straight in the bin.

The plastic wrapping over the top, which I assume is not recyclable.

Years ago in Suffolk, we had a man who collected and returned our bed linen from the laundry, once a week. I can’t remember the company, but I hope they’re still going, as they did an excellent service.

They then started doing dry cleaning and they gave you the choice of having it on hangers or neatly folded in tissue paper.

I remember we chose the latter, as it was so much more convenient.

C would then put things that needed a hanger on proper wooden ones.

With the worries around plastic getting into the oceans, surely we should stop this needless wrapping of dry cleaning with plastic and fold things neatly in tissue paper!

I look forward to seeing a dry-cleaners, that says that we don’t use plastic!

November 25, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | 5 Comments

Plastic Bag Charge To Rise To 10p And Be Extended To Every Shop

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Independent.

The title says it all.

I rarely buy a plastic bag and it is usually, when I travel around and have forgotten to put a bag in my coat pocket. I suspect I haven’t actually bought one since June.

I’ve also thought it wrong since the charge was introduced, that some shops didn’t charge, so this will create a level playing field.

As to the rise of the charge to ten pence, the biggest effect could be, that people remember to take a bag more often.

I do suspect though that smaller shops will complain and will say they will have to close.

But if they don’t have to charge, the taxpayer is effectively providing them with a subsidy.

If we are widening the plastic bag charge, surely now is the time to do something similar for fast food packaging.

The latter is personal, as quite a bit seems to end up outside my house in the front patio.

How about a ten pence packaging/obesity/littering charge on all fast food meals?

 

August 26, 2018 Posted by | World | , , | 4 Comments

Hydrogen Is Really Happening

The title of this post, is the same as that of this opinion in Energy Voice.

It is a good summary of where we are with hydrogen.

One interesting point of several is that researchers in the US and Spain can extract hydrogen from plastic waste.

This article from FuelCellWorks describes the Spanish research.

That would surely be a real zero-carbon fuel!

July 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment