Bulgarian Scientists Work on Microbial Degradation of Cellulose Waste

Bulgarian Scientists Work on Microbial Degradation  of Cellulose Waste

GB 11:37:01 19-10-2021

Bulgarian Scientists Work
on Microbial Degradation
of Cellulose Waste

Varna, on the Black Sea, October 19 (BTA) - Scientists from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) are working on a project for microbial degradation of cellulose waste, BTA learned from Prof. Hristo Najdenski, head of department at the Institute of Microbiology. He gave details of the project at the 7th International Conference on Ecological Engineering and Environment Protection with Youth Scientific Session and MELiSSA Summer University, held near Varna.

The international project involving BAS scientists aims to create systems for life support in extreme conditions, such as space missions or prolonged underwater missions, said Najdenski. Life in constricted space requires a healthy environment - normal water, food and air. The Bulgarian experts of the Institute of Microbiology, working in partnership with the BAS Space Research and Technology Institute, are focused on the section of the project concerning the microbial degradation of cellulose waste.

The Bulgarian team has made good progress - it has created microbial communities which degrade cellulose into carbon compounds. The microbes which can cope with this task on Earth are already there, now it has to be found out how long they can survive and how they can work in outer space.

When the microbes break down the cellulose, it runs off as a liquid mass through hydroponic systems, Najdenski said. The resulting substance can be used for growing fresh vegetables in space greenhouses. Scientists already have prototypes of such a greenhouse, which was also developed in Bulgaria. The microbes create a closed cycle, with clean water being released during the various processes.

The scientist added that microbial fuel cells are also being developed, whose vital activity involves electrochemical processes that create electricity. Moreover, they are self-powered.

These developments can be used in both space and Earth environments because huge amounts of waste are generated on the planet and the problem of cellulose degradation is facing humanity, the scientist said. In his view, the implementation of such projects could support the creation of a circular economy which uses waste products to create new products to be used or sold.

Bulgarian science is financed mainly from the National Science Fund of the Education and Science Ministry but those resources are not sufficient for larger-scale research, said Najdenski. Scientists also rely on other instruments, including the European Space Agency, whose criteria, however, require a specific product that can be built upon. DT/DD