Scientists are soon planning to turn plastics to vanilla ice cream

By Bala | Bala | 19 May 2023

Today morning when I was viewing some videos on Youtube, I came across an interesting video that talked about worms that are capable of producing enzymes that can be used to decompose plastics. We all know how big is the plastic problem. We have been continuously creating plastics in the last few decades and it is a big problem because they don't decompose easily and they are not good for the environment. There have been several types of research being conducted everywhere to find out a natural way to decompose plastics.


The above video talks about two things, the first thing is that they found a worm called wax-moth larvae that is capable of decomposing plastics. They can digest plastics with the help of enzymes they produce. They have the capability to introduce oxidation and break down the strong bonding in the plastics. We know the lifecycle of worms, they feed, they grow and they finally become moths. This particular worm was identified to be a big problem for bees and it will not be a wise idea to start farming these worms to decompose plastics. So it isn't the solution. So, even though we identified a worm that would decompose plastics, we are unable to use that worm.

AI aiding this research work

This is where scientists have now identified another solution. They have gone one step deeper in understanding what enzymes the worms produce and with the help of that enzyme, the scientists are looking forward to creating a strong enzyme that would not only break down the plastics but the residue that we would get after the breakdown should also be useful and easy to manage. Currently with the research they have found close to 30,000 enzymes that are capable of breaking down plastics. They have done this with the help of modern technology like AI which helps them identify permutations and combinations to find the right enzyme for this purpose.

With the help of data we are able to achieve anything and we can keep going further. AI takes care of handling these data and they help in doing the research work further.

Why not just use the worms?

I had the same doubt too. Why not just use the worms and start decomposing the plastics? The scientists say that the purpose of worms is to feed, grow and finally become a moth; after they become a moth the only purpose is to reproduce. Using the worms directly can be a solution but we cannot just like that increase the population of the worms. It is identified that they are troublesome to the bees. I was wondering if it would be a great solution to create a protected zone where there is no way for the moths to go out but just decompose the plastics and become a moth and then again reproduce.

But mostly I think the scientists are also worried about the residue part and what would happen to the residue given by the moths after decomposing. We need a concrete solution for that too.

Now is the interesting ice cream part

To find a solution to this problem, scientists have found out that the residue can be changed to vanilla ice cream which would be safe. I did not grasp the concept entirely though. Maybe I should read more about that but the scientists say that the artificial vanilla ice cream that is being prepared right now is also being done from oils with the help of T-coli. The same can also be experimented with the residue obtained from breaking down plastics and it can be checked if that can be a solution. There are no concrete solutions yet I believe but the scientists are thinking from this perspective.

It was indeed an interesting video and we are glad that we at least have some facility now to break down plastics maybe this research work can come to an end in another few years and we might have a concrete solution in place. There are a few countries where this research work is being carried out and Japan is one such place.

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