Students from Odemira awarded at the 26th Contest for Young Scientists and 12th National Science Exhibition

The young Patrícia Silva, Sophie Lenehan and Inês Oliveira, students of the Dr. Manuel Candeias Gonçalves Secondary School, in Odemira, received […]

The young Patrícia Silva, Sophie Lenehan and Inês Oliveira, students of the Dr. Manuel Candeias Gonçalves Secondary School, in Odemira, received two important prizes at the 26th Contest for Young Scientists and the 12th National Science Exhibition.

The young women won the LIPOR award, attributed to the best work in the environmental area, and participated in the INTEL ISEF Fair, which will take place in Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States of America.

Students from Odemira participated with the project “Tenebrius molitor as a bioreactor for the degradation of synthetic polymers”, intending to contribute to the possible use of insect larvae Tenebrius molitor (tenebrium) in the recycling of polystyrene waste at industrial level.

Students Alexandre Reis, Markus Lenehan and Tiago Gamito, from the same Dr. Manuel Candeias Gonçalves Secondary School, in Odemira, also participated in the Science Exhibition, in Odemira, with the project “ Biological control of agricultural weeds Cypress round".

The 26th Contest for Young Scientists and the 12th National Science Exhibition took place between the 31st of May and the 2nd of June, at Alfândega do Porto, in an initiative organized by the Youth Foundation with Ciência Viva – National Agency for Scientific and Technological Culture and the City Council of Porto.

The Exhibition involved 265 young people, coordinated by 64 teachers from 41 educational establishments, who made their projects known to visitors and to a specialized jury that will evaluate them.

Bioeconomics, Biology, Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Medical Sciences, Social Sciences, Economics, Engineering, Physics, Informatics and Computer Sciences, Mathematics and Chemistry were the categories of the 100 best projects on display.

 

Project "Tenebrius molitor as a bioreactor for the degradation of synthetic polymers"

Synthetic polymers, such as polystyrene (PS), known as styrofoam, constitute a serious environmental pollution problem. Recent scientific studies prove that insect larvae Tenebrius molitor (tenebrium) are able to biodegrade PS through bacteria in their digestive system.

This study aimed to find the optimal conditions for PS degradation by these larvae.

“We investigated three populations of Tenebrius molitor (from different locations) and we found that they have different efficiency in the biotransformation of PS”, explain the authors of the study.

“We tried to enrich the intestinal microbiota of the larvae with biofilms existing in PS decomposing in nature, but this procedure had no impact on the efficiency of PS biodegradation. We hypothesized that the PS dimensions influence the rate of degradation by the larvae, but we concluded that the larvae consume the styrofoam with the same efficiency, whatever the size of the residues”, they add.

“We are continuing to investigate the factors that can affect the efficiency of tenebrium as a bioreactor for styrofoam, so that, in the future, they can be used at an industrial level, in waste recycling stations”, they conclude.

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