Campus News

The Future of Bioplastics

Dr. Susie Dai and fellow researchers have developed a system that produces renewable bioplastics.

    By Hilary Nguyen ’26
  • Photos provided by Texas A&M AgriLife
  • May. 15, 2023
    1 min read

Dr. Susie Dai and other Texas A&M AgriLife researchers have developed a potential solution to combat two of our generation’s biggest problems: climate change and plastic waste.

With backing from the John ’90 and Sally ’92 Hood Fund for Sustainability and Renewable Products, the group of researchers developed an integrated system that converts carbon dioxide into ethanol and other two-carbon molecules. When bacteria consume these molecules, they produce renewable bioplastics.

The research resulted from a nearly two-year collaborative effort between Dai, an associate professor in the Texas A&M Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, and Dr. Joshua Yuan, the department’s former chair of synthetic biology and renewable products who now works with Washington University in St. Louis. By reusing carbon dioxide, their system offers a potentially powerful alternative to petrochemical plastics, which could take centuries to degrade.

“If we can capture the carbon dioxide waste, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions and can use it as a feedstock to produce something,” Dai said. “This new platform has great potential to address sustainability challenges and transform the future design of carbon dioxide reduction.”