Evaluation of the Effect of Chemical or Enzymatic Synthesis Methods on Biodegradability of Polyesters
This work compares the biodegradability of polyesters produced by an esterification reaction between glycerol and oleic di-acid (D 18:1) issued from green chemical pathways, via either classical thermo-chemical methods, or an enzymatic method using the immobilized lipase of Candida antartica B (Novozym 435). An elastomeric polymer synthesized by enzymatic catalysis is more biodegradable than an elastomeric thermo-chemical polyester synthesized by a standard chemical procedure. This difference lies in percentage of the dendritic motifs, in values of the degree of substitution, and certainly in cross-links inducing an hyper-branched structure less accessible to the lipolytic enzymes in a waste treatment plant. However, when the elastomeric polymer synthesized by enzymatic catalysis is processed at high temperature as required for certain industrial applications, it presents an identical rate of biodegradation than the chemical polyester. The advantages of the thermo-chemical methods are greater speed and lower cost. Enzymatic synthesis appears be suited to producing polyesters, devoid of metallic catalysts, which must be used without processing at high temperature to keep a high biodegradability.