Title

The biodegradation of polyethylene foam via Tenebrio

School Name

Spring Valley High School

Grade Level

11th Grade

Presentation Topic

Environmental Science

Presentation Type

Non-Mentored

Oral Presentation Award

2nd Place

Abstract

Plastic’s properties tend to produce polymers that are resilient towards environmental degradation factors. This results in the accumulation of plastics in the habitats of biological communities, which constitutes as pollution. However, even with plastic’s antidegradation properties, mealworms have presented promising results when it comes to the biodegradation of polystyrene, one of the most commercially employed plastics available. The purpose of the study was to analyze the biodegradation of polyethylene foam through mealworms, more specifically, Tenebrio. The change in mass of the polyethylene, measured in grams, was observed in coordination with the change in mass of the mealworms themselves. It was hypothesized that the mealworms would be able to significantly biodegrade the polyethylene foam, and that there would be no significant mass differences between the mealworms biodegrading the polyethylene foam and the mealworms consuming a bran-only diet. 10 mealworms were placed into chambers containing polyethylene foam and chambers containing bran meal. There was also another set of chambers that only contained polyethylene foam. After 14 days, there was a significant difference in the change in mass between the polyethylene masses. When two samples t-tests were performed, t(2)=-3.148, p=0.0878 was produced for the polyethylene mass change, and t(2)=-6.25991, p=0.004 was produced for the mealworm mass change. It was concluded that mealworms were able to substantially biodegrade the polyethylene foam sheets. However, they had a lower collective mass compared to mealworms consuming a bran meal diet.

Location

Wall 206

Start Date

3-25-2017 11:45 AM

Presentation Format

Oral and Written

Group Project

No

COinS
 
Mar 25th, 11:45 AM

The biodegradation of polyethylene foam via Tenebrio

Wall 206

Plastic’s properties tend to produce polymers that are resilient towards environmental degradation factors. This results in the accumulation of plastics in the habitats of biological communities, which constitutes as pollution. However, even with plastic’s antidegradation properties, mealworms have presented promising results when it comes to the biodegradation of polystyrene, one of the most commercially employed plastics available. The purpose of the study was to analyze the biodegradation of polyethylene foam through mealworms, more specifically, Tenebrio. The change in mass of the polyethylene, measured in grams, was observed in coordination with the change in mass of the mealworms themselves. It was hypothesized that the mealworms would be able to significantly biodegrade the polyethylene foam, and that there would be no significant mass differences between the mealworms biodegrading the polyethylene foam and the mealworms consuming a bran-only diet. 10 mealworms were placed into chambers containing polyethylene foam and chambers containing bran meal. There was also another set of chambers that only contained polyethylene foam. After 14 days, there was a significant difference in the change in mass between the polyethylene masses. When two samples t-tests were performed, t(2)=-3.148, p=0.0878 was produced for the polyethylene mass change, and t(2)=-6.25991, p=0.004 was produced for the mealworm mass change. It was concluded that mealworms were able to substantially biodegrade the polyethylene foam sheets. However, they had a lower collective mass compared to mealworms consuming a bran meal diet.