This youtube link is about a discovery of a PET plastic eating species of bacteria that evolved in only within the last 50 years to eat PET plastic. The bacteria uses an enzyme that is almost identical to one found in other bacteria but has mutated in such a way that the enzyme has just one amino acid different and that tiny difference results in that enzyme now able to chemically breakdown PET into its chemical building blocks which the bacteria then absorbs and derives its energy from. The scientist have been working on trying to produce an artificially designed version of that newly evolved enzyme that can work at least 100 times faster so it can then be used, without the inconvenient need to first culture bacteria, to chemically breakdown PET on an industrial scale so it can then be recycled.
Although AI wasn't even mentioned in this link, I see great potentual use for AI to greatly speedup the design process of this artificial enzyme as also all other artificial enzymes.
@sonhousesaid @humy So the next step would be industrialization? I wonder how long that would take, to be able to produce megaton quantities?
The hard part, and this I would guess would be by far the part that will cause the most delay in industrializing it, would be to first design a version of the enzyme that can do the job sufficiently fast. Once that is done then industrializing it should be a cinch but I still can't hazard a guess about how long that might all take.
I have just had a new idea; Once a ultra-fast enzyme has been designed for it, they could GM some marine bacteria to have that enzyme and then spray them over the oceans and coasts from specially adapted aircraft onto where the tides and currents have most concentrated plastic waste so that those bacteria could start to slowly eat away and remove at least some of the tons of plastic waste in the oceans and washed up on the shores. For maximum effect, several strains of bacteria could be used each with a different enzyme for breaking down a different type of plastic. Doing this shouldn't be of significant risk of resulting in those bacteria then spreading and then significant rotting the plastics that are in current use on land because those bacteria would still need water and other nutrients other from the plastic to thrive and thus providing a plastic surface is dry and clean they would find it hard to grow on it.
@sonhousesaid @humy Sounds like a Manhattan level project. I assume the research would be looking at that 'pincher' which seems to indicate a wider pincher makes for faster reactions.
The 'pincher' would ideally not only be designed to be the optimum width, not too wide or too narrow, but the optimum shape to first lock on. But that pincher needs to ALSO be so designed so after it locks on to then slightly change its shape in just the optimum right way and amount after it locks on and then possibly change its shape again before finally locking off its end product so its end product doesn't stay just stuck there in the way to block the next reaction cycle.
Its actually far more complex than what some people think it is with the simplistic 'lock and key' model which tends to give the misleading impression that the 'key' part (the reactive center shape of the enzyme) maintains a completely rigid i.e. unchanging shape throughout the reaction; It usually doesn't! And that is ignoring the complex issue of the required electron transfers in or out of the reactive center.
It stands to reason that the pincher would change shape so it can grab on to molecules and pull them apart like H2O does otherwise it would just be a little notch in a molecular pattern with not much going for it.
I guess H20 Molecules don't change shape just pointing out the polarity driven pull they have on ionic molecules like metals, how they get torn apart when the water is totally de ionized. We use DI water at our plant for cleaning but we also know we can't use metal parts for cleaning, we have to use for instance, glass chip holders so the chips get really cleaned and not just further contaminated by metal ions floating around having been torn apart by de ionized H20.