Microbial degradation of poly-(L-lactic acid) oligomers

Sari Karjomaa (Corresponding Author), Tapani Suortti, R. Lempiäinen, Johan-Fredrik Selin, Merja Itävaara

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39 Citations (Scopus)


Biotic and abiotic degradation of poly-(l-lactic acid) (PLLA) oligomers of molecular weight (MW) 260–2880 g mol−1 has been studied in an aquatic aerobic headspace biodegradation test for six months. Water soluble/dispersable PLLA oligomers (MW 260–550 g mol−1) biodegraded at 25 °C and at 58 °C. Larger, crystalline and hydrophobic oligomers (MW 550–2880 g mol−1) biodegraded only at 58 °C. Weight-average molecular weights of PLLA-oligomers decreased both during biotic and abiotic degradation, although slightly more during biotic degradation. The surface and inner structures of biotically incubated PLLA oligomers were more porous than those of abiotically degraded oligomers. Thus abiotic hydrolysis of PLLA-structure to lactic acid appears to be an essential, but not the only explanation for its degradation.
PLLA polymer chain seems to be cleaved also enzymatically to lactic acid.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-336
JournalPolymer Degradation and Stability
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 1998
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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