ITS students use multiple fungi to break down medical waste

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Anne Dwi Tsamarah uses high temperature to break down waste. (photo: ITS)

IO, Surabaya – Students from Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS) have discovered a way to safely dispose of solid medical waste from hospitals. Instead of using high temperatures, the three students from the ITS Chemical Engineering Department use multiple fungi to decompose such dangerous waste.

Student team head Anne Dwi Tsamarah announced in a release received by the Independent Observer that the idea for the research was inspired by the problem of solid medical waste in Indonesia – one which was currently not being effectively dealt with. According to Anne, this was a result of the increase in the volume of solid medical waste, coinciding with the rise of the number of hospitals in Indonesia.

Anne also explained that Indonesia had few medical waste processing facilities. “There are only six on the islands of Java and Kalimantan, according to data from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry,” said the class of 2015 student. As a result, solid medical waste was increasingly being left untreated.

Knowing the dangers of untreated medical waste to human health and the environment, Anne, together with her colleagues Lely Dwi Astuti and Ulfa Miki Fitriana in the Student Creativity Program (PKM), proposed a new method of decomposing waste, using a combination of Aspergillus oryzae (A. oryzae) and Trichoderma viride (T. viride). “The two fungi play the role of a decomposing agent of solid medical waste, primarily intravenous infusions bags which make up most of the waste,” explained Anne.

Anne claimed that the research, which began in April this year, already shows positive results. She explained that the combination of fungi was better at decomposing medical waste compared to when just using the A. oryzae fungus. The two fungi produced enzymes which could break down medical waste into simpler materials. “As a result, the mass of the solid medical waste decomposed by the combination of the two fungi was larger than that taken apart using just one type of fungi,” she explained.

Under the guidance of ITS Chemical Engineering Department lecturer Adi Setyo Purnomo SSi MSc PhD, Anne and her team are optimistic that they have done their best and hope that the Exact Research (PE) from the Student Creativity Program (PKM) made by the team can take them to the upcoming National Student Science Week (Pimnas) 2019. (est)