Title

Optimization of Polystyrene Decomposition Using Mealworms

School Name

Center for Advanced Technical Studies

Grade Level

11th Grade

Presentation Topic

Environmental Science

Presentation Type

Non-Mentored

Oral Presentation Award

1st Place

Abstract

The problem with polystyrene is the fact that the material cannot be recycled or thrown away in landfills due to the complex molecular structure of polystyrene, so there is a constant buildup in landfills and recycling centers each year. Mealworms have been scientifically proven to safely digest polystyrene through a bacterium inside the guts called Exiguobacterium sp.. If mealworms can digest polystyrene, then is there another type of material that mealworms could possibly digest? Polystyrene materials like packaging peanuts, polystyrene cups, food containers, etc. have a recycling number 6 symbol on the bottom of all materials along with the PS letters below. Trials containing different kinds of polystyrene like coolers, architect polystyrene, and polystyrene cups have successfully been eaten by the mealworms in the trials from this project. The trials have proven that mealworms can eat multiple types of polystyrene like XPS, EPS, and regular polystyrene. The findings could be used in landfills by dumping a mass of mealworms into the landfills to eat on the polystyrene to help lower the amount thrown away annually. For future work, there will be different tests being run like testing the amount of Carbon dioxide being released by the mealworms eating the polystyrene, seeing if growing a plant with the amount of Carbon dioxide being released is possible, etc.

Location

Founders Hall 213 A

Start Date

3-30-2019 9:45 AM

Presentation Format

Oral Only

Group Project

No

COinS
 
Mar 30th, 9:45 AM

Optimization of Polystyrene Decomposition Using Mealworms

Founders Hall 213 A

The problem with polystyrene is the fact that the material cannot be recycled or thrown away in landfills due to the complex molecular structure of polystyrene, so there is a constant buildup in landfills and recycling centers each year. Mealworms have been scientifically proven to safely digest polystyrene through a bacterium inside the guts called Exiguobacterium sp.. If mealworms can digest polystyrene, then is there another type of material that mealworms could possibly digest? Polystyrene materials like packaging peanuts, polystyrene cups, food containers, etc. have a recycling number 6 symbol on the bottom of all materials along with the PS letters below. Trials containing different kinds of polystyrene like coolers, architect polystyrene, and polystyrene cups have successfully been eaten by the mealworms in the trials from this project. The trials have proven that mealworms can eat multiple types of polystyrene like XPS, EPS, and regular polystyrene. The findings could be used in landfills by dumping a mass of mealworms into the landfills to eat on the polystyrene to help lower the amount thrown away annually. For future work, there will be different tests being run like testing the amount of Carbon dioxide being released by the mealworms eating the polystyrene, seeing if growing a plant with the amount of Carbon dioxide being released is possible, etc.