Unlike most boys his age, when Professor Bressler was a little boy he dreamed of one day creating an environmentally-friendly plastic from cow guts. Blessed with a strong stomach and a burning desire to better the world, he embarked on his noble mission.
What began as a project to protect the environment from disposal of cow remnants deemed “hazardous” (known to the rest of mankind as pet food ingredient numero uno), by creating an earth-friendly plastic would take him on a journey he never imagined would test his relationships, his ability to withstand horrid smells and his fortitude that would include an exhausting bathing routine that resulted in chaffed skin and an extremely high water bill.
Poor professor Bressler. He soon discovered because the rendering process basically starts with “rotting meat”, the protein waste smelled so bad that making the resulting plastics odorless was a “high priority”.
He said that after participating in a rendering project, it often took “about four showers” to get rid of the smell, he remembered, while shuddering. Suffering from chronic dry skin due to the excessive use of bath suds and saddled with the highest water bill he had ever seen in his life, he searched for words to describe the assault his nasal passages endured day in and day out, “If you left rotten meat in a Tupperware (container) for about four months, then open it up, you’re in the realm of what this stuff smells like sometimes,” he added while pointing his finger in his mouth, gagging.
Professor Bressler and his colleague, polymer physicist Phillip Choi soon became persona non grata at the lab. People would run when they saw them coming, “No offense!” they’d yell, before locking themselves in their offices while frantically shoving towels under the door.
Office picnics with those two in attendance – out of the question. Formerly a close bunch at the lab, socializing at the water cooler, gathering in the University cafeteria for lunch, the two of them were suddenly faced with eating lunch alone and missing out on office gossip.
Facing the very real likelihood of being ostracized by the entire staff at the lab, they knew had to devise a special scheme for containing the odor. The substance, or “that stinky shit” as it was more commonly referred to, was brought in closed containers that were only opened in a safety hood. From there, it was put into a reactor, which immediately neutralized the remaining stink.
Although not thrilled with the burden of moisturizing their skin thoroughly after every shower, Professor Bressler said he and Choi are committed to spending most of next year working on creating different “recipes” to determine what can be cross-linked with the byproducts to create different levels of durability and biodegradability, despite it’s effect on their social lives.
Starved for human companionship and a better moisturizer, the two scientists will, no doubt, be working feverishly into the wee hours to finish this project as quickly as possible.
SOURCE: Bressler Leading Study to Turn Animal Scraps into Plastics/Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune , Alberta Canada, August 23, 2011
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