Epoxy resins have a wide range of applications, including in corrosion protection of metals, electronics, structural adhesives, and composites. The consumption of epoxy resins is predicted to keep growing in the coming years. Unfortunately, thermoset resins cannot be recycled, and are typically not biodegradable. Hence, they pose environmental pollution risk. Here, we report degradation of epoxy resin by two bacteria that are capable of using epoxy resin as a sole carbon source. These bacteria were isolated from soil samples collected from areas around an epoxy and polyurethanes manufacturing plant. Using an array of molecular, biochemical, analytical, and microscopic techniques, they were identified as Rhodococcus rhodochrous and Ochrobactrum anthropi. As epoxy was the only carbon source available for these bacteria, their measured growth rate reflected their ability to degrade epoxy resin. Bacterial growth took place only when the two bacteria were grown together, indicating a synergistic effect. The surface morphology of the epoxy droplets changed significantly due to the biodegradation process. The metabolic pathway of epoxy by these two microbes was investigated by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. Bisphenol A, 3,3'-((propane-2,2-diylbis(4,1-phenylene))bis(oxy))bis(propane-1,2-diol) and some other constituents were identified as being consumed by the bacteria.
- Epoxy resin
- Microbial degradation