Journal of Polymers and the Environment

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 24–29 | Cite as

Determination of Mark-Houwink Parameters and Absolute Molecular Weight of Medium-Chain-Length Poly(3-Hydroxyalkanoates)

  • Manoj Nerkar
  • Juliana A. Ramsay
  • Bruce A. Ramsay
  • Marianna Kontopoulou
  • Robin A. Hutchinson
Original Paper


Absolute molecular weight distributions were determined for different medium-chain-length poly(3-hydroxyalkanoates) (MCL PHAs) with predominantly 3-hydroxyoctanoate (PHO), 3-hydroxynonanoate (PHN) or 3-hydroxydodecanoate content. This is the first study to estimate the Mark-Houwink constants of these polymers in the commonly employed GPC carrier solvent tetrahydrofuran (THF). The absolute molecular weight averages were determined via triple-detector size exclusion chromatography and combined with analyses using various detectors. Unlike with the short-chain-length poly(3-hydroxybutyrate), PHB, uncorrected polystyrene calibration in THF provided a good estimate (within 10 %) of absolute MW values for these MCL PHAs, irrespective of side chain length. Weight-average MW values ranged from 172,000 Da for PHO to 18,200 for PHN with 30 mol% 3-hydroxyheptanoate, and dispersities of all samples were close to two. Melt viscosity data suggested an entanglement molecular weight around 8 × 104 Da, significantly higher than most polymers.


Polyhydroxyalkanoate Medium chain length polyhydroxyalkanoate Viscosity Absolute molecular weight 



Funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council (NSERC) of Canada and Xerox Canada is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manoj Nerkar
    • 1
  • Juliana A. Ramsay
    • 1
  • Bruce A. Ramsay
    • 2
  • Marianna Kontopoulou
    • 1
  • Robin A. Hutchinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Polyferm Canada Inc.OntarioCanada

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