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Question 20

What is a biodegradable polymer? Give an example of a biodegradable aliphatic polyester.


A polymer that can be decomposed by bacteria is called a biodegradable polymer.

The biodegradable polymer are the polymers which are degraded by the micro-organism within a suitable period so that biodegradable polymers & their degraded products do not cause any serious affects on the environment. They degrade by enzymatic hydrolysis & oxidation.The decomposition reactions involves hydrolysis(either enzymatically induced or by non –enzymatic mechanism ) to non- toxic small molecules which can be metabolized by or excreted from the body.


The common examples of aliphatic biodegradable polymers are polyglycolic acid(PGA), Polyhydroxy butyrate (PHB), Polyhydroxy butyrates-co-beta hydroxyl valerate( PHBV), Polycaprolactone(pcl), Nylon-2-nylon-6.


These polymers are used mainly for medical goods such as surgical sutures, tissues in growth materials, for controlled drug release,plasma substitutes etc.They are also used in agriculture materials,such as films,seed coatings,fast food wrappers,personal hygiene products etc.

Poly-β-hydroxybutyrate-CO-β- hydroxyvalerate (PHBV) is a biodegradable aliphatic polyester.

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