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Chem Pet: Solving

The “Fatberg”
By: Izagani Aquino, Wesley Fink, Gigi
The Issue: Municipal
Sewer Systems Being
Clogged By Improper
Flushing Habits
Effects of a Clogged Sewer System

● Permanently damaged sewer pipes and other wastewater


○ Buildup of excrements

● Sewer runoff into the environment

○ Harms natural life and clean water

Common Problem Causing Materials

● Baby Wipes

● Grease

● Hygiene/Feminine Products

● Paper (Other than toilet paper)

● Flushable Wipes
$250 Million
The amount spent annually across Canada to manage sewer blockages
$19 Million
The amount of money New York City spent in 2018 to unclog sewers
Chem Pet

● Install bioreactors at pumping stations

● Mesh will be installed to separate waste from non flushables

● Bioreactors will contain the bacteria Ideonella Sakaiensis

(which contain the enzyme PETase)

● Bacteria will break down flushable wipes

● Residue will be transported to landfill

Percentage of wet wipes that are composed of polyester
What Is A Bioreactor:
A bioreactor is a tank which
dissolves larger materials with
a chemical solution.

It has a motor and mixers in the

middle of the tank, along with
probes on the sides to see the
concentration of the mix.

The inoculation pipe is at the

top while the drainage pipe is
at the bottom.

There is also an air compressor

and cold water tube going into
the mixture.
Why do we need a bioreactor?

- Bioreactor will provide an adequate setting

for plastic to be broken down
- Once PETase break downs the molecules of
the plastic, bacteria will be able to eat
through it to recycle it
- The environment within the bioreactor allows
for the bacteria to “do its job”
Dimensions of the Bioreactor
PET Plastics

● Plastics are made up of chemical bonds

● Plastics are composed of monomers, which are
combined into a chain network via chemical
● Various elements including carbon, hydrogen,
oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine, and sulfur are
present in plastic as they can be found in the
crude oil used to make plastic ( plastic is a
● Plastic is non polar because it is a
petrochemical, while water is
PET Plastics

● Terephthalic acid C8H6O4

● ethylene glycol (CH2OH)2
● How the two are synthesized in the
DMT process:
What the enzyme PETase does

● enzymes act as biological catalysts

● In this situation, the enzyme acts as a
biological catalyst to effectively reverse the
● In biodegradation, bacteria typically breaks
down organic compounds, however, plastic is
not organic so it avoids it
● PETase is able to break down plastic into
smaller molecules that bacteria can absorb
● Chemical bonds in plastic are split in this
Our Theoretical Lab: The Effect of PETase
Concentration on the Rate of the Breakdown of a
Flushable Wipe

● Goal: To find the highest enzyme concentration of PETase

before the point of saturation is reached
● Hypothesis: If the concentration of the bacteria is increased,
then the rate of breakdown will be sped up until the saturation
point is reached
Our Theoretical Lab: The Effect of PETase
Concentration on the Rate of the Breakdown of a
Flushable Wipe
● Materials:

○ 4 Sealable Glass Containers

○ 4 Flushable Wipes

○ Water

○ Ideonella Sakaiensis in nutrient agar solution

○ Micropipette
Our Theoretical Lab: The Effect of PETase
Concentration on the Rate of the Breakdown of a
Flushable Wipe
● Procedure:

○ 1. Fill 3/4s of each container with water

○ 2. Put one flushable wipe in container, seal, and set aside

○ 3. Take your bacteria and use the micropipette to insert 600 uL, 900 uL, 1200 uL into

each container

○ 4. Put the remaining wipes in each container and seal

○ 5. Check the breakdown progress every day until the wipe is fully broken down

○ 6. Record Information in data table

Our Theoretical Lab: The Effect of PETase
Concentration on the Rate of the Breakdown of a
Flushable Wipe
● Independent Variable- The concentration of PETase

● Dependent Variable- The rate at which the flushable wipe

breaks down

● Control- The container without the bacteria

Cost Estimation Per Pumping Station
● Bioreactor - $50,100 for 1

○ Includes bioreactor, initial bacteria, and initial mesh

● Installation Cost- $10,000

● Yearly Maintenance- $650 per bioreactor

○ Includes maintaining the reactor, replacing bacteria, and


● Initial Cost Per Reactor: $60,100 initial

Cost Estimation For Novato

● Novato has 34 pumping stations

○ Average of 3 bioreactors per station

● Initial Cost For Novato: $6,130,200

● Yearly Maintenance Cost For All Reactors: $66,300

Cost Estimation For New York City:
● New York City has 96 pumping stations

○ An average of 7 bioreactors per station

● Initial Cost: $40,387,200

● Yearly Maintenance Cost For All Reactors: $436,800

Benefits To Our Proposal:

● Landfills are already running out of space, breaking down wipes doesn't add to

this problem

○ The total capacity of landfill will decrease by 15% by 2021

● Saves large amounts of money in the long term

● More permanent solution than current methods

○ Most products to prevent wipes from being flushed, such as Traptex

Plumbing Protection System, need to be installed per home

Potential Science Table to present
to public

● Science table is specifically important for our group as we would like our product
to implemented to benefit the public
● We would like to show results from our hypothetical test, showing how the
wipes break down
● We would like to make a mini Fatberg to show how nasty they are
● Show projected costs and money saved by Chem Pet
A Greater Cause
Environmentally Friendly
Environmentally Friendly

Cost Effective
Environmentally Friendly

Cost Effective Properly Endorsed

Environmentally Friendly

Cost Effective Properly Endorsed

Modern Solution to Modern


● https://nypost.com/2019/04/22/nightmarish-fatbergs-are-clogging-new-yorks-sewers/
● https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0144860918300840
● https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/us-landfills-are-filling-up/
● https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffkart/2019/04/10/study-results-dispose-of-your-flushable-wi
● https://andoverma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/523/Do-Not-Flush-Advisory-PDF-
● https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/article/247465
● https://www.today.com/series/one-small-thing/are-flushable-wipes-really-flushable-t151945
● https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/may/26/disposable-wipes-sewer-to
● https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/advancing-sustainable-mat