Micromidas: Important Shitty Little Germs

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Plastics are one of the world's biggest pollution problems. Many plastics are practically indestructible and will languish in landfills practically forever. They could also bob about in continent-sized flotillas in the middle of the ocean known at the Pacific Garbage Patch, where the little granules will be mistaken by fish for sustenance and consumed, to the harm of the fish.

Another bad thing about plastic is that since it is mostly made from petroleum its use contributes to the ultimate shortage of a finite resource. Some biodegradable plastics are made from corn and soy but this is a short term answer. A tremendous surge in the manufacturing of such plastics would eventually, thanks to supply and demand, drive up the price of commodities that are needed for both human and animal nutrition. What substance could we make biodegradable plastic from, then? How about a substance that we have plenty of and that is generally considered useless. How about shit?

Ryan Smith of Micromidas does just that; he turns poop into plastic for a living.

"We take raw sewage from a waste water treatment plant and we convert it to biodegradable plastic,” he says. Smith says the plant is "just a series of tanks, nothing complicated or fancy about it. Nothing that is technically too difficult." That's because he gets bacteria to do the hard work for him, and that's the novelty of his product. Finding the bacteria and mixing them up into the right combination, however, is a different story.

Smith says they take poop and feed it to bacteria. "The bacteria store the organics as a bio-polymer ... little plastic granules, or inclusions, inside their bodies ... they are creating it." Just like when we eat sugar, and through a series of metabolic processes turn it into a fat, those little micro-buggers turn sewage into plastic in their bodies.

Then Micromidas uses a proprietary process that disrupts the cells and takes the plastic out. After they get it all cleaned up, the end product is a high-value, low-cost plastic resin ready to be sold off, and once disposed of it biodegrades in under eighteen months.

Possible final products currently being prototyped and tested could be foams, fibers, injection molds, and lots of other fancy words that mean plastic packaging that doesn't get anywhere near food.

"Something you don't eat with, but is a packaging material, and ecological beneficial," Smith says. This should alleviate the nightmares any of you may have had about wrapping the pastrami sandwich you're taking for lunch in plastic film made from the grogan your disgusting uncle Elmer dropped in your bathroom during his last visit. You remember, don't you? The stench was so bad that even your neighbors complained.

7 Comments on "Micromidas: Important Shitty Little Germs "

daphne's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardSite AdminComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatore 6000+ points

Neat submissions, Chief!


_______
.....hugging bunnies since 1969
www.daphneszoo.com

.....hugging bunnies since 1969
www.daphneszoo.com

the thin brown line's picture
j 1000+ points

Chief....and that day will come when the worlds populus can look to the east, west, north, and south and shout out with pride "THERE's SHIT EVERYWHERE!!!!!

Somethin' mysterious made an exit from the gift shop.

Thunderbox's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Quality Moderatorj 1000+ points

Interesting....all these green, save the world, and let`s protect all endangered species kind of folk will be up for this big time.

But surely bacteria have a right to live free lives as they please as well, and not be rounded up and sacrificed just for the sake of our spending driven consciences?

That`s going to give these righteous saviors of the planet a bit of a problem if they even put half of one of their mainly brainless thoughts to it.

The voice of sanity

Anonymous Coward's picture

"uncle elmer" synonym for grogan?

"i gotta go drop uncle elmer off at the pool"

flushette's picture
l 100+ points

I always thought there was too much plastic everywhere. When clerks don't even ask if we want a bag at the store, let alone paper or plastic, I make them take out my item and keep the bag.


_______

Never finish until you're done!

When you've got nowhere to go, and you feel it start to flow, diarrhea... diarrhea.

Mr Dip's picture
m 1+ points - Newb

Thanks for the informative, well-written article Chief! Nice to read something that doesn't end with someone having shit smeared all over themselves for a change! Not that I don't thoroughly enjoy those stories as well...

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ pointsg 4000+ pointsh 3000+ pointsi 2000+ pointsj 1000+ pointsk 500+ pointsl 100+ pointsm 1+ points - Newb

Shit could easily become one of the world's most valuable commodities. Feed some composted shit to the veggies in your garden then turn some shit into plastic to wrap your veggies in at the produce market.

Eventually the hangup of using shit produced plastic for food containers will fall by the wayside, opening the way for becoming wealthy by dealing in "brown gold".


_______
Dirty old men need love too!!

If I had two faces do you think I'd be wearing this one?

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