SIU researchers working to better the quality of life

Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 5:49 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2021 at 5:53 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - Researchers at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale are working to save the planet and their work could have a direct impact on your life.

Two scientists explained how their efforts could one day help tackle the threat of climate change.

“You are a part of a problem. Because you are generating this waste. Imagine the pandemic right we actually doubled our plastic usage,” said Lahiru Jayakody, SIU Microbiology professor.

That is why SIU Microbiologists are trying to create biodegradable plastics that will help the environment.

“The waste that can carbon has been making, PET, coffee, green tea. We going to get those and put into microbes and produce chemicals and make new type of plastic that replace PET,” said Jayakody.

This technology could reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by cutting the energy needed to produce this type of plastic by more than 50 percent.

In the Life Science III building, another project is working to put CO2 back underground.

“The increase of concentration CO2 is increasing the heat, it’s causing more erratic weather and all that,” said Scott Hamilton-Brehm, SIU assistant professor of Microbiology.

This effort is funded by Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation.

This SIU team is one of 23 teams in the world to participate in the XPRIZE Carbon Removal challenge.

The selection of SIU team will allow them to receive an initial reward of $125,000.

The team could be awarded another $125,000 following the filing of a satisfactory progress report.

Hamilton-Brehm said they are working to fix the problem of an over-abundance of CO2 that’s been building up for centuries.

“We are developing a method or system that we need, should of been doing for a very long time. So we have a 250 year backlog. Fine, if we can scale this up, make this across the country, across the world we can then catch up and get our system, our eco system back into balance again,” said Hamilton-Brehm.

In the next few years, the carbon study is going to need to community’s help.

“We hope that everyone in the surrounding area can pitch in, give us their kitchen scraps,” said Tia Zimmerman, SIU Graduate Student.

The winner of the Xprize Carbon removal challenge could win $100 million.

That’s the largest incentive prize in history.

As for all the scientists, they are just working to create a better living environment.

“All the guys who taught in here many researchers are engaging in environmental sciences. Basically they want to be involved in a process that could benefit the human being. Because we are facing a problems, global warming, energy, food insecurity,” said Jayakody.

Copyright 2021 KFVS. All rights reserved.