Journal of Polymers and the Environment

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 309–316 | Cite as

Assessing Aerobic Biodegradability of Plastics in Aqueous Environment by GC-Analyzing Composition of Equilibrium Gaseous Phase

  • Pavel Dřímal
  • Josef Hrnčiřík
  • Jaromír Hoffmann
Original paper


Testing biodegradability of plastics under varied conditions of the environment as well as under laboratory conditions in accordance with valid international standards is very laborious, lengthy and often also economically demanding. For this reason, applicability was verified of gas chromatography to analyze gaseous phase when investigating the biodegradation course of plastics in an aqueous environment as an alternative to customary employed methods. A mathematical model of acid–basic CO2 equilibrium in a gas–liquid system was worked out, enabling to determine quantity of produced CO2 through chromatographic analysis of gaseous phase, in dependence on ratio of liquid and gas phase volumes (V l/V g) and on actual pH of liquid phase. Experimental conditions for organizing the tests were optimized. A ratio that proved suitable was V l/V g ≅ 0.1 at pH ≈ 7.1 of liquid phase. Under these test conditions, biodegradability of model samples, PHB, Gellan gum and Xanthan gum, was explored; course of biodegradation was studied through produced CO2 (values \(D_{\rm {CO}_2}\)) determined by analyzing gaseous phase through gas chromatography on the one hand, and through customary “titration” procedure on the other. With water-soluble polymers, the decrement in dissolved organic carbon (values D DOC) was also studied. Difference between values does not exceed 5%. The procedures in question are alternative “substituting” procedures for observing course of aerobic biodegradation of substances in an aqueous environment.


Gas chromatography Aerobic biodegradation Carbon dioxide balance Plastics 



This work was supported by the Research Project of the Ministry of Youth, Education and Sports of the Czech Republic No. 7088352101.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pavel Dřímal
    • 1
  • Josef Hrnčiřík
    • 2
  • Jaromír Hoffmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Technology, Department of Environmental Protection EngineeringTomas Bata UniversityZlínCzech Republic
  2. 2.Faculty of Technology, Department of Food Engineering and ChemistryTomas Bata UniversityZlínCzech Republic

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