|Title||Methods for Evaluating the Biodegradability of Environmentally Degradable Polymers|
|Author(s)||Zee, M. van der|
|Source||In: Handbook of Biodegradable Polymers / Bastioli, Catia, Shawburry : Smither Rapra - ISBN 9781847355263 - p. 1 - 28.|
|Department(s)||FBR Sustainable Chemistry & Technology|
|Publication type||Chapter in book aimed at a professional audience|
|Abstract||This chapter presents an overview of the current knowledge on experimental methods for monitoring the biodegradability of polymeric materials. The focus is, in particular, on the biodegradation of materials under environmental conditions. Examples of in vivo degradation of polymers used in biomedical applications are not covered in detail, but have been extensively reviewed elsewhere, e.g., [1−3]. Nevertheless, it is important to realise that the degradation of polymers in the human body is also often referred to as biodegradation.
A number of different aspects of assessing the potential, rate and degree of biodegradation of polymeric materials are discussed. The mechanisms of polymer degradation and erosion are reviewed, and factors affecting enzymatic and nonenzymatic degradation are briefly addressed. Particular attention is given to the various ways of measuring biodegradation, including complete mineralisation to gases (such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4)), water and possibly microbial biomass. Finally, some general conclusions are presented with respect to measuring the biodegradability of polymeric materials.