Biopolymers are polymers which are naturally found in nature. Like polymers biopolymers are chain-like molecules made up of repeating chemical blocks and can be very long in length. The prefix bio means that they are produced by living organisms and thus are biodegradable.
With the excessive use of plastics, rising pressure is getting placed to meet the ever increasing demand of petrochemicals coupled with the search for a safe plastic waste disposal process. This awareness of the waste problem and its impact on the environment has awakened new interest in the area of economic and efficient biodegradable polymers sources for production of plastic or popularly known as the bioplastic.
Numerous types of biodegradable polymers are under development that popularly includes Polylactides, Polyglycolic acids, Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), aliphatic polyesters, polysaccharides. On the other hand, natural renewable polymers include porous sponges (from cellulose wood fibres), fibres (made from natural fibres), hydrogels, starch, cellulose, chitin, chitosan, lignin and proteins. Among these numerous aforementioned biodegradable polymers, PHAs is being considered as the most potential renewable substitute to petrochemical plastics because of its resemblance to commercially available plastic in context to physical and chemical properties.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are polymers synthesized entirely by a biological process that involves conversion of carbon sources directly into PHAs through microbial fermentation. In contrary, most of the other biopolymers like polybutylene succinate (PBS), Polytrimethylene Terephthalate (PTT) and Polylactic Acid (PLA) are chemically synthesized using fermentation-derived monomers. For example, PLA is prepared by Ring Opening Polymerization (ROP) of lactide, a cyclic dimer of dehydrated lactic acid that is produced by fermentation.
Last date updated on June, 2014