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Scientists in China Use Salmon Sperm To Create Eco-friendly Alternative to Plastic

Though the scientists used the raw materials from salmon sperm, the DNA carries the genetic code for every living thing on Earth. (Image for representation/Shutterstock)

Though the scientists used the raw materials from salmon sperm, the DNA carries the genetic code for every living thing on Earth. (Image for representation/Shutterstock)

The scientists took two short strands of DNA from the fish sperm and combined it with a chemical, derived from vegetable oil, that binds the strands together.

The use of plastic is quite common in our society, as they are used for wrapping, packaging products and, also as carry bags. Over the years, plastic has been proved to be a big problem for the environment as it is made from petrochemicals, which require a lot of heat and toxic substances to manufacture. Furthermore, the plastic takes centuries to break down and very few get recycled, hence, most end up incinerated or in landfills.

There are a number of disadvantages related to plastics and their usage implies serious problems. One of the biggest threats of plastics is that they significantly hurt our environment in many different aspects. However, The Times reported that scientists in China have invented a new eco-friendly plastic, which is made from salmon sperm.

The scientists took two short strands of DNA from the sperm and combined it with a chemical, derived from vegetable oil that binds the DNA strands together. The combination results in a squishy material known as hydrogel.

The gel is further moulded into different shapes and freeze-dried in order to remove the moisture, which solidifies the gel. The researchers have already created a couple of things, like a cup and a DNA molecule from eco-friendly plastic. Though the scientists used the raw materials from salmon sperm, the DNA carries the genetic code for every living thing on Earth. A 2015-study had stated that there are around 50 billion DNA on the planet. So, plastic could be made out of sustainable sources such as waste material from crops, algae, or bacteria.

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But is this plastic better than others?

A lot of research has been put behind to find plastic alternatives that are less damaging to our natural environment. Previously, biodegradable plastics have been created using materials like cornstarch and algae. But these plastics require a lot of energy and can be difficult to recycle.

Limitations of sperm-based plastic

This plastic can be recycled using water which means that it would need to be kept dry. In order to make it waterproof, several coatings would be added, making it more difficult to recycle.

However, the researchers believe that sperm-based plastic can be used for items like electronics that are kept dry anyway and some forms of packaging.

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first published:December 01, 2021, 17:08 IST