Biopolymers & Biocomposites Workshop - August 14, 2012

Robert Whitehouse

Presentation Abstract

Polyhydroxybutyrate Polymers: A Review of Properties and Biodegradation

Polyhydroxyalkanaote polymers are a large family of aliphatic polyester derived from hydroxyacid repeat units and include such products as polylactic acid, polycaprolactone and poly 3 hydroxy butyric acid homo and copolymers, and the major commercial products. The change in structure of the repeat units has significant changes in the physical properties that can be achieved and this leads to specific commercial applications where they have had the most success. This will be discussed in more detail during the presentation.

One significant benefit of polyhydroxyalkanaotes is that they are biodegradable are all biodegradable under specific conditions such as industrial composting as defined by ASTM D6400 and EN 13432. Hence fabricated parts may be composted back to carbon dioxide and water, recycled through separation and plastic processing operations, or incinerated for energy as alternatives to landfill operations. Metabolix poly 3 hydroxybutyrate polymers have a wider versatility with regard to biodegradation performance and can readily degrade under home composting conditions, ambient soil (farm applications), aquatic (rivers and ponds), marine, and anaerobic degradation. Part two of this presentation will investigate waste management in general with primary focus on biodegradation approaches and new standards which are being developed.