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[翻译]SCIENCE IN THE NEWS - New Plastic-Eating Substance May Help Fight Against Pollution

更新时间:2018/4/30 7:15:23 来源:本站原创 作者:佚名

Scientists in Britain and the United States have designed a substance that eats plastic. They believe that, in the future, it could help reduce pollution.

英国和美国科学家设计出了一种“吃”塑料的物质。他们认为将来它可能有助于减少污染。

The enzyme is able to break down polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. This form of plastic was patented in the 1940s. It is now used in millions of metric tons of plastic bottles.

这种酶能够分解聚对苯二甲酸乙二醇酯(简称PET)。这种塑料在20世纪40年代获得专利,目前被用于数百万吨的塑料瓶。

PET plastics can remain in the environment for hundreds of years. The plastics pollute large areas of land and water around the world.

PET塑料在自然环境中可以存在数百年。这些塑料污染了世界各地的大片土地和水域。

Researchers from Britain’s University of Portsmouth and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory made the discovery. They did so while examining the structure of a natural enzyme that is thought to have evolved in a waste recycling center in Japan.

英国朴茨茅斯大学和美国能源部国家可再生能源实验室的研究人员有了这一发现。当时他们在研究一种据认为形成于日本垃圾回收中心的天然酶的结构。

John McGeehan, a professor at Portsmouth, co-led the work. He said the researchers found that the natural enzyme was helping a bacteria break down PET plastic. So, the researchers decided to make small changes to its structure by adding some amino acids.

朴茨茅斯大学教授约翰·麦吉汉(John McGeehan)共同领导了这项研究。他说,研究人员发现这种天然酶能帮助细菌分解PET塑料。所以研究人员决定通过添加一些氨基酸对其结构进行细微调整。

This led to a valuable change in the enzyme’s actions. It made the enzyme’s plastic-eating abilities work more quickly.

这使得这种酶的作用发生了重要变化,它可以更快地分解塑料。

“We’ve made an improved version of the enzyme better than the natural one already,” McGeehan told the Reuters news service. He added that it may be possible for them to make more improvements to it in the future.

麦吉汉对路透社表示:“我们已经造出了一种超出其天然状态的改良版酶。”他补充表示,未来他们可能会对其做出更多改进。

The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the team’s findings earlier this month.

美国《国家科学院学报》本月早些时候发表了该团队的研究结果。

The team is now trying to make it possible for the enzyme to be able to break down much larger amounts of PET plastics.

该团队目前正试图让这种酶可以分解更大量的PET塑料。

McGeehan said, “It’s well within the possibility that, in the coming years, we will see an industrially viable process to turn PET, and potentially other (plastics), back into their original building blocks so that they can be sustainably recycled.”

麦吉汉表示:“未来几年,我们可能会看到一种工业上可行的工艺将PET等塑料恢复到它们的原始结构,这样它们就能被持续回收利用。”

Independent scientists not directly involved with the research said the discovery was interesting. But they warned that the enzyme’s development as a possible solution for pollution was still in the early stages.

没有直接参与该研究的独立科学家们称这一发现非常有趣。但是他们警告说,这种酶作为污染潜在解决方案的发展仍处于早期阶段。

Oliver Jones is a chemistry expert at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University. He told Reuters that enzymes are not harmful to humans and other animals. They easily break down in natural conditions. Also, extremely small organisms can produce them in large amounts.

奥利弗·琼斯(Oliver Jones)是皇家墨尔本理工大学的化学专家。他对路透社表示,酶对人类和其它动物无害。它们很容易在自然状态下分解。而且,极其微小的生物体就能产生大量的酶。

“There is strong potential to use enzyme technology to help with society’s growing waste problem by breaking down some of the most commonly used plastics,” Jones said.

琼斯表示:“利用酶技术具有很大的潜力,它可以通过分解一些最常用塑料来帮助解决社会不断增长的垃圾问题。”

Douglas Kell is a professor of biological science at Manchester University. He said further rounds of work “should be expected to improve the enzyme yet further.”

道格拉斯·凯尔(Douglas Kell)是曼彻斯特大学的生物学教授。他表示,未来一系列研究应该有望对这种酶做出进一步改进。

He added that the discovery brings the goal of creating manmade, sustainably recyclable chemical substances much closer to reality.

他补充表示,这一发现让创造可持续回收人造化学物质这一目标更接近于现实。

I’m Pete Musto.

Words in This Story

enzyme – n. a chemical substance in animals and plants that helps to cause natural processes

patent(ed) – v. to get an official document for something that gives a person or company the right to be the only one that makes or sells that thing for a certain period of time

evolve(d) – v. to change or develop slowly often into a better, more complex, or more advanced state

recycling – n. the process of making something new from something that has been used before

amino acid(s) – n. any one of many acids that occur naturally in living things and that include some which form proteins

journal – n. a magazine that reports on things of special interest to a particular group of people

viable – adj. able to be done or used

potentially – adv. able to become real

sustainably – adv. done in a way so that something is able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed

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