Developing Methods to Test the Biodegradability of Polymers
Research in our laboratory contributed towards the development of new biodegradation testing protocols that were ultimately adopted by the ASTM and are now commonly used in academia and industry. Early access to these simulated anaerobic and aerobic environment evaluation methods allowed us to carry out some of the first in-laboratory 'controlled' polymer biodegradation studies. An example of important results from our work was the first demonstration that highly substituted cellulose acetate (2.5 degree of substitution) is biodegradable (mineralized to CO2) in simulated compost-type aerobic environments.
Scheme 23. Set-up of respirometric method to analyze polymer degradation (Gu et al, 1993).
Figure 29. Cellulose acetate films with degree of substitution 2.5 degraded to high extents (80% mineralization to CO2) within 2-months. This was the first demonstration that cellulose acetate with high substitution is degradable in a compost environment (see Gross et al., 1995).
- Richard A. Gross, Ji-Dong Gu, David Eberiel and Stephen P. McCarthy, "Laboratory Scale Composting Test Methods to Determine Polymer Biodegradability: Model Studies on Cellulose Acetate, J Macromol. Sci.-Pure & Appl. Chem., V A32, No. 4, 613-628 (1995).(PDF)
- Ji-Dong Gu, Shunjuan Yang, Robert Welton, David Eberiel, Stephen P. McCarthy and Richard A. Gross, "Effect of Environmental Parameters on the Degradability of Polymer Films in Laboratory Scale Composting Reactors", J. Environ. Polym. Deg., Vol 2, No. 2, 129-135 (1994).(PDF)
- Ji-Dong Gu, David Eberiel, Stephen P. McCarthy and Richard A. Gross, "Degradation and Mineralization of Cellulose Acetate in Simulated Thermophilic Compost Environments", J. Environ. Polym. Deg., Vol 1, No. 4, 281- 291 (1993a).(PDF)
- Ji-Dong Gu, Sarah Coulter, David Eberiel, Stephen P. McCarthy and Richard A. Gross, "A Respirometric Method to Measure Mineralization of Polymeric Materials in a Matured Compost Environment", J. Environ. Polym. Deg., Vol 1, No. 4, 293- 299 (1993b).(PDF)
- Ji-Dong Gu, David. T. Eberiel, Stephen. P. McCarthy and Richard. A. Gross, "Cellulose Acetate Biodegradability Upon Exposure To Simulated Aerobic Composting And Anaerobic Bioreactor Environments", J Environ. Polym. Degrad., 1(2), (1993c).(PDF)