Polymers have been synthesised by the ring-opening polymerization of beta-butyrolactones or cyclic anhydrosulphites. Both the homopolymers and copolymers of these monomers with caprolactone or valeroactone have been prepared and characterised for use as potential biodegradable materials. In addition to the synthesis of novel materials, existing materials such as PHB-HV have been modified either by blending with cheaper materials or by transesterification reactions. Methods have been developed for the assessment of the physical and biological properties of the polymers. These methods have been directed towards both long-term and short-term assessment of the stability of the polymers in aqueous environments.
This proposal addresses the problems associated with the production of polymers as potential mass commodity biodegradable materials for packaging.
The three principal areas of study in this proposal will be:
A. Synthesis. A number of routes will be studied for the generation of a range of polymers and copolymers that are linear polyesters of controlled architecture.
These will be used in a series of further studies to determine the structural factors that control environmental degradation, whilst the polymer remains hydrolytically stable.
B. Modification. Blending, transesterification and plasma and plasma techniques will be used to modify existing and novel materials to control the rate and efficiency of biodegradation.
C. Environmental degradation. The rate efficiency and decay of physical properties during any biodegradability will be assessed using a waste water screening system.
The products formed during these processes will also be established. Concern will be given to determine the toxicity of any materials produced and the the products of biodegradation.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts