Chat and give your opinion on news and events around the globe.
Primetopic of the day: Scientists at the University of Dublin have found a way to break down styrofoam, the bane of recyclers/composters everywhere. This could be a great step towards sustainability, but it does require the styrofoam to be heated first." Unfortunately, eating the styrofoam causes the bacteria to shit lead. Dublin University continues to develope and inspire new innovations which may lead to healing the planet. Mankind has destroyed it's mother and now like an obident son must make pennence and repent. We may be on the way there if time allows


on Mar 09, 2006
I don't see anything about lead in that article.
on Mar 09, 2006
Sorry I've removed the piece until I check with my source.

Kevin O'Connor and his European colleagues turned the polystyrene into an oil through pyrolysis--a process that heats the petroleum-based plastic to 520 degrees Celsius in the absence of oxygen. This results in a chemical cocktail made up of more than 80 percent styrene oil plus low volumes of other toxicants. The researchers then fed this brew to P. putida CA-3, a special strain of a common soil microbe, fully expecting that the oil would have to be further purified in order to enable bacterial growth.

But the bacteria thrived on this new diet, turning 64 grams of undistilled styrene oil into nearly 3 grams of additional bacteria. In the process, the bacteria stored 1.6 grams of the energy of the styrene oil as a biodegradable plastic called polyhydroxyalkanoates, or PHA. This plastic can stand up to heat but also breaks down more naturally in the environment than petroleum-based products. Thus, though the biology-powered process results in some toxic byproducts such as toluene and requires significant energy to drive the pyrolysis, it fuels hopes that Styrofoam--and the polystyrene molecule that makes it--can become more environmentally friendly.
on Apr 27, 2006
No sources for you, but I taught at a Fujitsu company (in Niigata, Japan) that produced ATM's. My students said that they broke down the styrofoam that accumulated due to shipping and receiving components with a concentrated acetic acid of some sort and then made poker chips out of the remnants.

Anyway... something to do with styrofoam.