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Exploring the Biodegradation Potential of Polyethylene Through a Simple Chemical Test Method
KTH, School of Chemical Science and Engineering (CHE), Fibre and Polymer Technology, Polymer Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7790-8987
KTH, School of Chemical Science and Engineering (CHE), Fibre and Polymer Technology, Polymer Technology.
2014 (English)In: Journal of polymers and the environment, ISSN 1566-2543, E-ISSN 1572-8900, Vol. 22, no 1, 69-77 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Oxidatively degradable polyethylene is finding widespread use, particularly in applications such as single use packaging and agriculture. However, the key question which still remains unanswered is the ultimate fate and biodegradability of these polymers. During a short-time frame only the oxidized low molecular weight fraction will be amenable to significant biodegradation. The short-time frame biodegradation potential of different LDPE-transition metal formulations was, thus, explored through a simple chemical extraction of oxidized fraction. In addition the effectiveness of different transitions metals was evaluated by comparing the extractable fractions. Blown LDPE films modified with different transition metal based pro-oxidants were thermo-oxidized at 60 °C over extended periods. The structural changes occurring in the polymer were monitored and the oxidized degradation products formed as a result of the aging process were estimated by extractions with water and acetone. The extractable fraction first increased to approximately 22 % as a result of thermo-oxidative aging and then leveled off. The extractable fraction was approximately two times higher after acetone extraction compared to extraction with water and as expected, it was higher for the samples containing pro-oxidants. Based on our results in combination with existing literature we propose that acetone extractable fraction gives an estimation of the maximum short-term biodegradation potential of the material, while water extractable fraction indicates the part that is easily accessible to microorganisms and rapidly assimilated. The final level of biodegradation under real environmental conditions will of course be highly dependent on the specific environment, material history and degradation time.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 22, no 1, 69-77 p.
Keyword [en]
Biodegradation, Degradation, Oxidatively-degradable polyethylene, Pro-oxidant, Test method
National Category
Polymer Technologies
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-142338DOI: 10.1007/s10924-013-0629-4ISI: 000330973600008ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84893768807OAI: diva2:699714

QC 20140228

Available from: 2014-02-28 Created: 2014-02-28 Last updated: 2014-03-13Bibliographically approved

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