RUDN University biologist studied the aggressive impact of environmental factors (water, salts, and ozone) on ultrathin nanofibers of biopolymers. The results will help choosing suitable bioplastic depending on the use; for example, for medical implants,
packaging or filters for water cleaning.
Testing Environmental Effects on Different Plastics
The RUDN University biologist found out how the environment affects the nanofibers of two plastics of organic origin:
Biologists obtained six types of fibers from polyhydroxybutyrate powder and polylactide granules by electrospinning method. The polymer solution was placed in a high-voltage electrostatic field, which “pulled” the solution into thin jets. After cooling, they turned into fibers. Six types of finished fibers differed in the content of polymers in the composition-pure polylactide and polyhydroxybutyrate and their blends in different ratios.
“We obtained the electrospun ultrathin fibers based on thermoelastic biopolyesters. Both of them produced from the naturally abundant renewable resources, namely, polylactide and polyhydroxybutyrate. But our main aim was not to obtain the fibers themselves, but to determine whether their properties are preserved under the impact of aggressive environmental factors
”, Alexandre Vetcher, PhD, deputy director of the scientific-educational center “Nanotechnologies” of RUDN University.
Impact of Various Condition on Fibers
RUDN University biologists have studied the impact of water, physiological environment (internal environment of the body) and ozone on the resulting nanofibers. It turned out that the water vapor absorption depends on the polymer structure. The higher the proportion of polylactide, the more water the fibers absorb: Up to 1% of the sample weight.
Scientists used a phosphate buffer to simulate the internal environment of a living organism. Polylactide fibers lost more than 50% of their mass in solution over 21 days, and samples with a high polyhydroxybutyrate content lost less than 15%. Also, polymers with a high content of polylactide absorbed ozone molecules more quickly when treated with a stream of this gas and because of such intense oxidation they were destroyed. Ozone penetrated the fibers with a 50:50 ratio of the two polymers the fastest.“We demonstrated that biodegradable nanofibers, which are characterized by a crystalline structure, are more resistant to decomposition by water and ozone. Now it is necessary to test these materials for resistance to UV light and microorganisms to determine the optimal applications for each type of fiber”
, Alexandre Vetcher, PhD, Deputy Director of the Scientific-educational center “Nanotechnologies” of RUDN University.Source: RUDN University