Plastic and High Tensile Strength

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* Biopol is a copolymer of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and polyhydroxyvalerate (PHV) to form PHBV.
PRODUCTION:
* Enzyme used in synthesis is Ralstonia eutrohpus
* Biopol is produced industrially, using the fermentation of sugar by R. eutrohpus that grow in tanks with a carbon-based food source and limited nutrients (P/NO3). It is then separated and purified. * Polymers made from plants have the same structure as those produced by bacteria; produced naturally by renewable agricultural resources

PROPERTIES:
* Biodegradable and biocompatible
* Non-toxic
* Insoluble in water
* Acid/base resistant and UV light resistant
* High tensile strength and melting point
* Permeable to oxygen (can decompose more speedily without oxygen)

USES:
* Disposable products such as razors, rubbish bags, cutlery => biodegradable, therefore environmentally safe * Surgical applications, such as surgical pins/stiches => biodegradable/compatible, non-toxic and high tensile strength, therefore safe to use in the body * Replacement for petroleum-derived plastics => high tensile strength, insoluble in water, non-toxic and biodegradable

ADVANTAGES/DISADVANTES:
* Biopol is a biodegradable material, so it has a smaller impact on the environment than other polymers such as polyethylene (i.e. reduces rubbish levels in landfills) * Biocompatible material, which can be dissolved by enzymes in the body. This means that any surgical applications don’t have to be removed from the body * Renewable resource

* Very expensive to manufacture; low demand therefore not economically viable

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS:
* Genetically engineering bacteria such as E.Coli, produces PHBV more beneficially (i.e. faster growth, better yields, easier recovery and less waste biomass) * By genetically engineering plants like cress and potatoes, biodegradable...
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