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A Passion Avenue For Science


PET is a highly versatile material, which is commonly used in water bottle and food-related packaging production. However, PET is also a pollutant in the environment. This project explores hydrolysis methods using environmentally-safe substances, such as ethylene glycol and hydrotalcite, to degrade PET into its intermediate product (MHET). Promising result is shown in further degradation of MHET using fungal treatments to produce terephthalic acid, which is non-toxic to the environment.


Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

In nature, PET is only degraded by approximately 5-10 µm per year. To compare, the human hair is around 70 µm. A single-use plastic bag takes around 1,000 years to decompose into microplastics that continue to release toxins and pollute the environment[2].

PETase & MHETase

Enzymes that have the ability to break down PET and MHET are called PETase and MHETase, respectively[3]. So far, PETase has been found in many microorganisms, such as fungi and bacteria[4-7]. However, MHETase has only been discovered in a bacteria called Idionella sakaiensis. This bacteria uses PET as its carbon and energy source and produce TPA and ethylene glycol as its final products[8]. In this work, we have discovered a fungi that potentially produces MHETase.

Experimental Procedure

Synthesis of hydrotalcite catalyst:

  1. Mg(OH)2 and Al2O3 were suspended in distilled water

  2. pH of the solution was charged to 9-10 using NaHCO3

  3. Solution was refluxed at 80C for 3hours

  4. Resulting white product after filtered and oven-dried

Then, PET was hydrolized with ethylene glycol and hydrotalcite at 198C in a reflux system.

Fungi culture using MHET-fused media to see the potential fungal activity.

This project is about utilize an environment safe substance that could degrade PET in a shorter time than it should be in natural way which estimated takes 450 years to fully breakdown.

Study on Coastal Change and Sea Surface Temperature in Jakarta Based on Remote Sensing

This project, Jonathan and his mentor carry out remote sensing data analysis to study the evolution of the coastline and sea surface temperatures around Jakarta area. The work is hoped to reveal additional insights about the geographic condition of the island in the last decade.

Amplifying the Atmospheric Water Harvesting Capabilities of Calcium Chloride via a Cellulose Sponge Medium

This project is about a machine that could harvest moisture in air with hygroscopic salts infused in a sponge and proceed further with the hope that this could be a reliable source of clean water.

PET Degradation Using Ethylene Glycol and Hydrotalcite


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