THE beworm PROJECT
Since 1950, humans have produced about 8.3 billion tons of plastic. Instead of recycling or reusing it, we thought it would be a good idea to litter in the environment. Well, we all know where that's headed. But nature came up with its own solution: In the last years research has documented over 90 different organisms, microorganisms and biomolecules that are able to break down long-chain polymers.
beworm uses these bioagents to develop a biotic/biocatalytic recycling process, that decomposes oil-based plastics like polyethylene and closes the gap in the material cycle. In our first experiments we worked with waxworms, but the real magic is done by microorganisms and enzymes in their digestive system. That's why we are working on the isolation and optimization of PE-cleaving bioagents, aiming to develop a scalable, efficient and ressource-saving process.
BUT HOW DOES IT WORK?
Polyethylen is a polymer composed of long hydrocarbon chains
The outcome of
the process are the monomers or building blocks of polyethylene
like fungi and bacteria
produce enzymes that can break up these long chains
The enzymes act on polyethylene as their substrate and degrade the material
Those building blocks could be used for new petrochemical products or plastic
GREAT! SO I CAN LITTER WHEREVER I WANT?
HOW BIG IS THE PROBLEM?
Well, very big. This is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, one out of five trash islands floating around our the oceans. And yes, that's it's real size.
the Biomimetic Idea Challenge awarded by the TUM Leonardo da Vinci Center of Bionics as a first funding
The team gets a
spot at the TUM Entrepreneurship Center, situated right next to the Bio.Kitchen in Garching
In 2021 beworm
aims to get a start-up grant to work full time
on the experiments
and the product
MSc. Industrial Design
& Dipl. Ing. Electrical Engineering and IT
MSc. Biology (Student)
CURRENT LAB WORK
Our main goal is to find out which bioagents are the most efficient for a PE-degradation process by experimenting with different organisms, bacteria and enzymes.
Check out our lab
The beworm-project is ambitious, as it enters unknown terrain. Only a few teams worldwide are working on biotic and biocatalytic recycling systems. But we think that it could really make a difference, because it:
BECOME A BIONEER
BUILD YOUR OWN INCUBATOR IN...
5 EASY STEPS!
You will only need a few simple things that you will find in the stores of your city to start your own worm farm!
Take good care of your worms and they will stun you with awesome results!