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Polymer Chemistry

A primer to enzymatic polymer degradation

Nachrichten aus der Chemie, November 2023, S. 38-40, DOI, PDF. Login für Volltextzugriff.

Von Wiley-VCH zur Verfügung gestellt

As highly efficient biocatalysts, enzymes could be used in technical applications for the degradation of polymers, for chemical recycling of polymers, and for the removal of microplastic debris. The formulation of enzymes with preservation of their enzymatic activity is a major challenge for applications with polymers.

Polymers are chainlike macromolecules which have multi-faceted uses essential to modern day society. At the end of a polymer’s life, the waste must be properly managed and, ideally, recycled. However, large amounts of polymers are disposed of improperly and thereby contribute to microplastic debris in the environment.1)

Biopolymers are enzymatically produced polymers critical to life, and include polypeptides, polynucleic acids, polysaccharides (e.g. starch and cellulose), and polyisoprene as prominent examples. Concomitant with synthesis, nature has, however, also devised means of biopolymer degradation by enzymes, particularly within the microbial realm. Such mechanisms are largely absent for man-made polymers, although some man-made polymers, for example poly(l-lactide) (PLLA), can also be enzymatically degraded by microbes or inside animal and

Industrie + Technik

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