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Taiwan university teams wins gold for pollution-solving polymer
Source: Taiwantrade | Updated: 27 November 2018

A team of students from National Chung Cheng University in Chiayi County have won a gold medal at the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition with a new material that enables the manufacture of biodegradable, waterproof and heat-resistant paper cups, the school said on Nov 14, 2018.

This year, 340 teams of college students from around the world attended the US-based competition, the university said, adding that the award-winning material is to be patented and commercialized with potential industry partners.

Taiwanese consumers use 170 million paper cups per year, while 75 percent of paper cups and boxes are not recyclable, because the coating applied to them for water proofing or heat resistance are made of polymer or wax, team member Ku Ho-chun said.

These materials contribute to plastic pollution and create the compound dioxin when incinerated, he said.

To replace existing laminates, the team developed “Liggreen,” a polymer created by yeast that has been genetically modified to produce enzymes that catalyze coniferyl alcohol, he said.

As the government’s policy is to restrict or phase out single-use plastics, it would be possible to substitute all consumable plastic items with Liggreen, which is water proof, highly resistant to heat and completely biodegradable, the team said.

On the same day, Taichung’s National Chung Hsing University unveiled two new cultivars of hay bacillus-resistant rice, NCHU 9 and NCHU 11.

They retain the yield, grain quality and hardiness of their parent cultivars, while increasing the plant’s resistance to hay bacillus, one of the most damaging blights facing rice farmers, said Wang Chiang-sheng, a professor of agronomy at the university.

The researchers crossbred the Taiken 9 and Tainan 11, the most popular types of rice among the nation’s farmers and consumers, which resulted in the new cultivars that contain three to four disease-resistant gene strains, he said.

Taiken 9 and Tainan 11 require three fungicide sprayings during their growth cycle, while the new cultivars need just two, he added.

NCHU 9 and NCHU 11 would be further improved, taking fragrance, glycemic index, protein content, and resistance to other diseases and pests into consideration, he said.

Source: Taipei Times
Blake Lin (blakelin@taitra.org.tw)

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