10-7 IAN Manure Plastic
I want to take you on an adventure that may sound surreal but bear with me, it is a little offbeat… It might be a dream. So I am walking through a pasture on a pleasant day and as I stroll along, I accidentally step in a cow pie. I look beseechingly to the heavens and ask why did this have to happen to me on such a nice day? Useless, filthy manure on my walking shoes. Suddenly, a little cherub appears and says that manure is not useless. In fact, it can be turned into biodegradable plastic for use in an infinite number of applications. This manure can be a link in the circle of life. All of a sudden I awake from this celestial encounter, pick up the phone and call Dr. Erik Coats, University of Idaho Associate Professor of Civil Engineering. “The research group, our focus is on resource recovery, we see a lot of value in waste streams that everybody else just wants to dispose of. There is carbon, electrons, nutrients, there are opportunities to leverage microbial processes that bacteria can perform to capture, recover and convert those nutrients into something of value. That is what we do. We combine fermentation and aerobic treatment and convert the manure to a biodegradable plastic that is quite similar to polyethylene or polypropylene depending on what we get out of our fermenter.” Absolutely ingenious and that is why science must be funded.