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Biodegradable polymers decompose in natural aerobic (composting) and anaerobic (landfill) environments. Biodegradation of these polymers can be achieved by enabling microorganisms in the environment to metabolize the molecular structure of the product to produce safe and clean byproducts. Biodegradable polymers have experienced strong growth over the last three years and are set to make further inroads into markets traditionally dominated by conventional thermoplastics in future.

Biodegradable Polymers is a course that investigates four main classes of biodegradable polymers:

  1. polymers from biomass such as the agro-polymers from agro-resources (e.g., starch, cellulose)
  2. polymers obtained by microbial production (i.e. polyhydroxy-alkanoates)
  3. polymers conventionally and chemically synthesized and whose the monomers are obtained from agro-resources (e.g., the poly(lactic acid)
  4. polymers whose monomers and polymers are obtained conventionally, by chemical synthesis

The course will review biodegradation mechanism, measurement techniques and global standards, polymerization, structure, and polymer properties. Students will study special requirements of processing techniques, sterilization and storage of biodegradable polymers, and a review of markets, applications, and outlook.

Course Outcome

After completing Biodegradable Polymers, students will be equipped with a basic understanding of the following:

  • what does biodegradation mean
  • biodegradation test protocols and standards
  • biodegradable polymer classifications
  • polymerization, structure, and properties
  • processing techniques, sterilization, and storage
  • markets and applications
  • future outlook
  • Agenda

  • Audience

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