Metabolix in tobacco and hospital

No, this is not about Metabolix developing genetically modified tobacco so people can smoke it without having lung cancer.

Metabolix had two announcements last week, the first one is the use of its bioplastic resin Mirel in disposable hospital products; and the other is that Mirel has completed a field trial of genetically engineered tobacco that can potentially be a feedstock source for the company’s polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biobased polymers.

Metabolix has joined Amsterdam-based bioenergy tech company Pharmafilter for the development of bioplastic products such as service ware items, bed pans and trash bags for hospital use. In order to avoid contamination, these products will be disposed of along with the hospital and healthcare wastes using Pharmafilter’s waste system, which reduces solid waste first through a grinding station and then through a series of purification steps, including anaerobic digestion.

Outputs are biogas for fuel or power generation, biomass for energy conversion, and clean water.

The initial pilot project is scheduled to begin operation in March 2010 at Delft Hospital in Amsterdam. It will be nice if we can also have this kind of system here in the US, don’t you agree?

For Metabolix’s tobacco project, the company said it was able to produce 3-5% of PHA-contained tobacco in a 0.8 acres of land. The experiment is said to lay the groundwork for planning and permitting activities for field trials in bioengineered, non-food oilseed and biomass crops producing PHA.

In my opinion, it might be better if they could develop PHA in other non-food crops that is not used to manufacture cancer-causing products.

By the way, this week’s news roundup will be temporarily unavailable due to technical difficulties (meaning I was unable to compile news from last week because of travel and school schedules – Sorry!). However, I will be able to post more this week and will hopefully give some wrap-up coverage of last week’s oleochemical conference that I attended in Berlin.

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