Chengzi Guo

Department of Biochemistry

Realising the industrial potential of plastic degradation using enzymes is the main focus of Chengzhi Guo's PhD studies in Professor Florian Hollfelder’s lab. Under collaborative efforts, Chengzhi has integrated enzymatic plastic degradation into clean technologies to chemically transform waste plastics into value-added products such as hydrogen gas and small organics. Through a techno-economic analysis, the workflow produces green hydrogen gas at a low operational carbon footprint and a positive return in energy, where the power embodied in the hydrogen produced is higher than the power consumed for manufacturing.

Realising the inefficiency of the plastic recycling industry, my collaborators and I demonstrated a photoreform system that efficiently converts polyester plastics into hydrogen gas, a biofuel, and high-value organics though the steps of 1) plastic degradation with enzymes, and 2) conversion of degraded plastics to valuable chemicals with sunlight and photocatalysts. Our innovations lies in the process where all reactions are nontoxic, cheap, and functional at ambient conditions. If practiced industrially, our system can create add-on values to plastic wastes with reductions of carbon footprints (>3000x, evaluated by techno-economic analyses), and financial costs (>1000x) compared with conventional recycling processes.

I conceived the project, designed all experiments on enzymatic plastic degradation, and constructed the system with my collaborator. There is an ongoing applications for IP protection on this work. If granted, the award will contribute to demonstrating the functionality of photoreforming at an industrial scale.

Other 2022 award winners

Filip Boskovic

Teresa Brevini

Katrin Fischer

Ana Gatoo Jimenez de Laiglesia

Nomisha Kurian

Rakoen Marieke Maertens

Katerina Naydenova

Clayton Roberts

Benjamin Tuck

Vaithish Velazhahan

Clara Wanjura

Previous award winners

Find out about the winners awarded in previous years: