Degradable polymers : The role of the degradation environment

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Journal titleJournal of Environmental Polymer Degradation
Pages137151; # of pages: 15
SubjectBiodegradation; Thermal degradation; Hydrolytic degradation; Composting
AbstractThe degradability of several degradable polymers was examined using three types of degradation environments. These include exposure in a laboratory-scale composting test system containing material representative of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (MSW), exposure in a thermal hydrolytic environment consisting of water at 60°C and exposure in a thermal-oxidative, dry oven environment of 60°C The results of the investigation clearly indicate that, in addition to chemical and biological activity which can lead to polymer degradation, physical restructuring and reorganization of the macromolecular structure may also occur at temperatures typically found in a compost environment, resulting in changes in the mechanical properties of the polymer films. In the case of the polyethylene-modified polymers evaluated in this study, all behaved similarly, but differently from the other polymer types. The polyethylene-based films appeared to be susceptible to oxidative degradation and should degrade in a composting environment providing that there is sufficient air in contact with the film for a sufficient period of time. However, when exposed in a laboratory composter, it appears that although ideal temperature-time curves may be obtained, the test time period was insufficient in comparison to the induction period required to achieve the desired thermal oxidative degradation.
Publication date
AffiliationNRC Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology; National Research Council Canada
Peer reviewedNo
NRC number37620
NPARC number12726894
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Record identifierb9cc1699-1b24-483d-ad88-abfbbed9849d
Record created2009-10-17
Record modified2016-05-09
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