Allies from the deep

March 12, 2024

Chemical waste from industrial processes can pose a threat to biodiversity and people’s health. Yet current methods of dealing with pollution are expensive and sidestep the problem – for example by incinerating the waste – rather than solve it. Estelle Clerc, a postdoctoral researcher at ETH Zurich, is forging a different path with her start-up CellX: she searches remote waters such as the deep ocean for bacteria that can degrade specific pollutants such as microplastics, pharmaceuticals and pesticides. These bacterial strains can be cultivated in large quantities in the lab, the goal being one day to turn them into commercial products that can degrade specific pollutants. Sustainable, efficient and cost-effective, this new technology might also be used in the future to upcycle pollutants and other waste.

Chemical waste from industrial processes can pose a threat to biodiversity and people’s health. Yet current methods of dealing with pollution are expensive and sidestep the problem – for example by incinerating the waste – rather than solve it. Estelle Clerc, a postdoctoral researcher at ETH Zurich, is forging a different path with her start-up CellX: she searches remote waters such as the deep ocean for bacteria that can degrade specific pollutants such as microplastics, pharmaceuticals and pesticides. These bacterial strains can be cultivated in large quantities in the lab, the goal being one day to turn them into commercial products that can degrade specific pollutants. Sustainable, efficient and cost-effective, this new technology might also be used in the future to upcycle pollutants and other waste.

The source of this news is from ETH Zurich

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