Solar PET Terminator
To put cutinases to work, we have two options: the first is to transform symbiotic bacteria obtained from bivalves, so that they are equipped with the microplastic degrading ability when they work together with their filter-feeding symbionts. This option is postponed due to technical difficulties including limited research support on the identities of symbiotic bacteria. Thus, we are left with the second option: to host the cutinases in a enclosed chamber and pass polluted water through the device – our Solar PET terminator.
Here is our solar PET terminator, which composed of 5 main parts: solar water heater, degradation tank with immobilized cutinase coated on beads, a battery, a heater and peltier modules. The solar water heater absorbs sunlight and turns it into heat energy to heat up the water. The heated water will flow to the degradation tank. The degradation tank contains beads with immobilized cutinases, which degrades PET in water. The beads are made of calcium alginate or magnesium alginate. The material is chosen as most cutinases have short half-lives, using alginate beads can strike a balance between cost and durability. When the water temperature is too high, an electric solenoid valve will open and let the water flow to the peltier modules. The peltier modules converts excess heat to electricity, which is used to charge up the battery. On cloudy days or when water temperature is too low in cold weather, the heater will draw electricity from the battery to heat up the water to the optimum working range for cutinase.