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Environmental degradation of polyethylene
KTH, Superseded Departments, Polymer Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7790-8987
KTH, Superseded Departments, Polymer Technology.
2004 (English)In: LONG-TERM PROPERTIES OF POLYOLEFINS, Berlin, 2004, Vol. 169, 177-199 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The environmental degradation of polyethylene proceeds by synergistic action of photo- and thermo-oxidative degradation and biological activity. Since biodegradation of commercial high molecular weight polyethylene proceeds slowly, abiotic oxidation is the initial and rate-determining step. Enhanced environmentally degradable polyethylene is prepared by blending with biodegradable additives or photo-initiators or by copolymerisation. One of the key questions for successful development and use of environmentally degradable polymers is to understand the interaction between degradation products and nature. Polymer fragments and degradation products should be environmentally assimilable and should not accumulate or negatively affect the environment. Determination of abiotic and biotic oxidation products is an important step towards establishing the environmental degradation mechanism and environmental impact of the material. More than 200 different degradation products including alkanes, alkenes, ketones, aldehydes, alcohols, carboxylic acid, keto-acids, dicarboxylic acids, lactones and esters have been identified in thermo- and photo-oxidised polyethylene. In biotic environment these abiotic oxidation products and oxidised low molecular weight polymer can be assimilated by microorganisms. In future we will probably see a development of new polyethylenes with tailor-made structures specially designed for environmental degradation through different pathways. Paralleled with the development of these new materials we need to obtain better understanding of the environmental impact of degradable polymers and the interactions between nature and degradation products in a dynamic system.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Berlin, 2004. Vol. 169, 177-199 p.
Keyword [en]
polyethylene, environmental degradation, environmental impact, degradation products, low-density polyethylene, thermo-oxidative degradation, molecular-weight products, solid-phase extraction, hydroperoxide decomposition, microbial-degradation, compost environment, matrix changes, starch blends, lactic-acid
National Category
Polymer Technologies Polymer Chemistry
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-23636DOI: 10.1007/b13523ISI: 000223226800007ScopusID: 2-s2.0-2942633967OAI: diva2:342335

QC 20150622

Available from: 2010-08-10 Created: 2010-08-10 Last updated: 2015-06-22Bibliographically approved

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Hakkarainen, MinnaAlbertsson, Ann-Christine
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