Gold Medal and Integrated Human Practices
Everything is Connected!
Human Practice is the heart of ITB_Indonesia’s Dewaruci Project. Our project grew as we incorporate human practices in every step of the way. We have done a plethora of human practice activities and each activity has significantly impacted the direction of our project in some way. Here is the story on how human practice has created, shaped, and evolved Dewaruci Project.
Stand on the Shoulders of Giants
Through human practice, we have made sure that our project is correctly aimed. When we began, we challenged our original idea to fit into the needs of society, visions of experts, and even in line with our government’s core programmes. First, we challenged our idea through an eye-opening discussion with an expert on the matter. The discussion with Ir. Ivonne Milichristi Radjawane, M.Si., Ph.D., one of Indonesia’s best experts on oceanic plastic pollution, can be fully seen on our Silver Human Practice Page. The conclusions of the discussion are as follows:
1. Plastic pollution in the ocean is currently a very dire issue for Indonesian government, since in 2015, Indonesia was highlighted internationally as the second worst ocean polluter in the world. Here we conclude that our project is exactly in line with our government’s project and expert visions.
2. She challenged us to directly visit locals who suffered from the impacts of oceanic plastic pollution to gather more data and strengthen our background.
The Problem Does Exist!
We gladly took the advice and shifted our human practice focus to directly visit locals who suffered from the impacts of oceanic plastic pollution. In Cidaun and Muara Angke (which complete documentations can also be seen on our Silver Human Practice Page) we had discussions with fishermen and directly observe the problems we are trying to tackle. Our background and reason to fight oceanic plastic pollution has never been stronger.
Our next human practice project came in the form of international collaboration. We collaborated with universities all around the globe to document policies and regulations on genetically modified organisms in a lot of countries (the complete documentation can be seen on our Collaboration Page). From this result of this human practice activity, our project once again evolved. We found out that in all places, the use of genetically modified organisms directly in the environment is strongly prohibited. This is a huge deal because Dewaruci Project is based upon in situ bioremediation of plastic pollution in the ocean. We then had to find a way out.
We thought of several alternatives to make our project safer so that it can be directly applied in the ocean. One of the way to find the best solution to our problem is to again, consult with experts. We then initiated a discussion with Ir. Sri Harjati Suhardi, Ph.D, a biosafety and environmental microbiology expert (the full documentation can be seen on our Silver Human Practice Page). We discussed a lot on the need of a containment mechanism for our bacteria. From that discussion, our project improved drastically.
1. We developed our very own safety/containment module to ensure the safety of our genetically modified bacteria to be used directly in the ocean.
2. We developed an alternative containment mechanism in the form of bioreactor (which is more feasible in the short run)
Bioreactor Concept Design
Dr. Sri Harjati Suhardi gave us an insight of the future application of our project. She suggests us to build a safety containment to prove the safety of GMO as the first step to convince the society. Therefore, we made a bioreactor concept as the first stage of future application. We hope this concept could be enhanced and realized in the near future.
The bioreactor is operated on batch mode with a hundred liters of capacity. To fulfill the oxygen requirement, air is supplied at the rate of 2 vvm continuously to the vessel. The medium consists of 1.5 kg of molasses as a minimum carbon source. As the nitrogen source, we use 0.5 kg of fish waste as minimum amount. A hundred milliliter of kanamicyn is added to prevent the invasion of foreign microbes. Sea water is added until reach working volume 100 L. The diagram is given below:
There are two operation stage:
1. Inoculation Stage
In this stage, the bacteria is grown until reaches quorum sensing phase, which triggered at 1 × 107 times of the initial cell concentration. According to growth kinetics model, the time needed to reach the quorum sensing is 5-6 hours, using the assumption in which the specific growth rate of bacteria is half its maximum value.
2. Degradation Stage
Sea water is pumped into vessel and the bacteria will degrade the plastic debris as well as micro-plastic. The mixing rate should be reduced in order to minimize the drag force when bacteria starts forming a biofilm on PET surface.
According to ethylene terephthalate production model, we can calculate degraded PET by stoichiometric reaction approach:
Hence, we got 0.84 mg of PET that degraded. Reaction yields can calculate by equations :
We obtain that the yield of the degradation is 49.93%(w/w), which indicates that this process is affordable to be upscaled into the commercial scale.
Productivity can also calculate based on data that we have. Productivity calculated by equation :
The productivity of the reaction is 0.00209 g(L-1 h-1). From this data, we determine the degradation capacity which is the multiplication of productivity to bioreactor capacity on a yearly basis. The production capacity 1.83 kg/year for a 100L bioreactor. Aside from technical analysis, we also do the economic assessment. The bioreactor is not purposed to be a profitable tool, rather a remediation tool. Hence, we only calculate the capital investment and operational cost. The capital cost of the bioreactor system is listed as below:
To operate a single bioreactor would need a medium that cost:
We assume the bioreactor would operate on a weekly basis. Hence, the operational cost would be fitted for 52 weeks or 52 batch. The total medium cost would be 818 USD/year. Electricity cost was calculated by using national tariff which is Rp 1467/kWh or 0.11 USD/kWh. Overall, the total cost to operate a 100L bioreactor is 2467 USD/year.
Indonesia iGEM Booklet Vol. 1
Lastly, we put all the affordable knowledge into one documented media, Indonesia iGEM Booklet Vol. 1. Public engagement program gave us an overview about people awareness on synthetic biology. We are trying to increase the awareness by writing a booklet. The booklet was written in Bahasa to prevent a language barrier in the learning process. It is consist of the synthetic biology basic knowledge and our projects. The basic knowledge includes the definition of synthetic biology, part, device, and system. We also elaborate the previous, recent and future outlook of our iGEM projects. We put the past four years of ITB team human practice, dry lab, and wet lab in detail. It was our contribution to inspire another Indonesian team. The booklet then distributed to academician through an email. We hope this effort could generate more innovative solution through synbio field in Indonesia.
At the end of the day, we felt that all the human practice activities that we had done have greatly inspired us and empowered us to try to make a change through a better Dewaruci Project. We believe that, even more than the project itself, inspiring and empowering people can make a great impact. In order to do just that, we tried to share the lessons and inspirations we got from our long iGEM Human Practice journey to the world in the easiest and captivating way we can attempt. We thus created our very own documentary short film, which can be watched here , and a booklet project that can be shared to everyone, especially to fellow Indonesians to raise awareness on the dangers of microplastics and the endless potentials of synthetic biology.