Journal of Polymers and the Environment

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 1019–1026 | Cite as

Methodology to Assess Silicone (Bio)Degradation and its Effects on Microbial Diversity

  • Baptiste Laubie
  • Aurélie Ohannessian
  • Valérie Desjardin
  • Patrick Germain
Original Paper


The behavior of silicone elastomers in landfills has not been well studied. Their impact on the environment is not known and, consequently, it has not been possible to establish robust Life Cycle Assessments of these materials. In the first part of this study, a methodology for assessing silicone degradation pathways is described. The chemical and biological parameters were considered separately. Firstly, parameters such as pH, redox potential and cation concentration were monitored and then degradation in aerobic and anaerobic conditions was investigated. Any impacts on microbial diversity were also taken into account, using bio-molecular tools. In the second part, a case study on the degradation of Room Temperature Vulcanizable silicone elastomers was performed to validate this methodology. The results indicate that condensation catalysts play a key role at their end-of-life, in both chemical and biological degradation. Moreover, these compounds have a significant effect on microbial communities (similarities with blank samples <5 %). As a consequence, the choice of catalyst should be carefully considered to assess any environmental impacts.


Polymer end-of-life Polymer degradation Silicone elastomers Silicone waste 



The authors acknowledge the analytical department of the LGCIE for contributions to this study. The authors would also like to thank the Bluestar Silicones® Company, which supplied the elastomers and Dr. Valerie James for proofreading this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Baptiste Laubie
    • 1
    • 2
  • Aurélie Ohannessian
    • 1
  • Valérie Desjardin
    • 1
  • Patrick Germain
    • 1
  1. 1.INSA of Lyon Laboratoire de Génie Civil et d’Ingénierie Environnementale, Lab. (LGCIE)University of LyonVilleurbanne cedexFrance
  2. 2.INSA Lyon, LGCIEVilleurbanneFrance

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