The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation-sponsored Chemistry ShortsTM series released its newest film, “Driving Reactions,” which explores the power of harnessing nature’s own innovations to solve problems. The film is available for immediate viewing and use in teaching free of charge on the Chemistry Shorts YouTube channel. A full lesson plan with an experiment to accompany the film is available on the Chemistry Shorts website.

Featured scientists Professor Hal Alper of the University of Texas at Austin and Nobel Laureate Professor Frances Arnold of the California Institute of Technology use directed evolution to design enzymes that work as molecular machines to solve problems in our everyday lives, helping create a more sustainable world through the power of chemistry. These new enzymes open the door of scientific progress, creating solutions for recycling waste, creating sustainable fuels, and more efficiently producing materials we use in our everyday lives. “Driving Reactions” focuses on Dr. Alper’s innovative work to design an enzyme that can degrade PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, one of the most common plastics found in water bottles and other common objects, into infinitely recyclable and reusable products.

“We have the ability to use the power of chemistry to find sustainable solutions for the future.” – Hal Alper, “Driving Reactions”

“Driving Reactions” is aimed at high school and college students and can be used as a starting point for discussions around polymer chemistry, enzyme reactions, directed evolution, DNA, and plastic recycling.



The Chemistry Shorts series spotlights the positive impact of chemistry on modern life as scientists work to solve important problems and create new opportunities that benefit humanity. See all of the films and lesson plans in this series at and keep updated on new films and resources by following Chemistry Shorts on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

The Chemistry Shorts series is funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.