Pint of Science: Waste, wonderful waste

21 May 2019, 7.30 PM - 21 May 2019, 9.30 PM

Eldon House, 6 Lower Clifton Hill, Bristol, BS8 1BT, United Kingdom

Waste is a major societal and environmental problem. Despite growing public awareness of the problem, increasing volumes of waste are being generated as part of our modern life-styles. But what if this waste could be part of the solution? What if we could engineer this waste to tackle some of the major challenges facing the world today? Join us to hear how plastics can be re-purposed to actually reduce environmental contamination, and urine can be used to generate electricity!

Using Plastic Trash to Clean Up

Julian Eastoe (Professor of Chemistry, University of Bristol Cabot Institute) 
Swapping polystyrene with biodegradable alternatives will help keep waste from entering landfills, but it will not completely address the mountains of discarded plastic. In collaboration with colleagues from Brazil, chemists from the University of Bristol are looking into using one environmental problem to solve another. They have concocted a way to break down pollutant dyes with catalytic materials made from waste polystyrene. This repurposed plastic waste uses light to degrade waste synthetic dyes that can kill fish and animals and carry potentially dangerous substances to humans.

Electrifying Bacteria and the Power of Pee

Jonathan Winfield (Lecturer in Bioenergy, University of Bristol) 
Bacteria are everywhere, in the air we breathe, and cover everything we touch! Remarkably, "electro-active" species of microbes can generate electricity using technology called microbial fuel cell (MFC). Bristol BioEnergy Centre has been developing MFCs for nearly twenty years. This technology has been transformed from a laboratory curiosity to one that is now being tested in the real world. This talk will highlight the key breakthroughs with MFCs, some unusual applications and culminating with details of trials in faraway locations such as Uganda, Kenya and Somerset.

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