Polyurethanes (PU) are one of the most-used classes of synthetic polymers in Europe, having a considerable impact on the plastic waste management in the European Union. Therefore, they represent a major challenge for the recycling industry, which requires environmentally friendly strategies to be able to re-utilize their monomers without applying hazardous and polluting substances in the process. In this work, enzymatic hydrolysis of a polyurethane-polyester (PU-PE) copolymer using Humicola insolens cutinase (HiC) has been investigated in order to achieve decomposition at milder conditions and avoiding harsh chemicals. PU-PE films have been incubated with the enzyme at 50 degrees C for 168 h, and hydrolysis has been followed throughout the incubation. HiC effectively hydrolysed the polymer, reducing the number average molecular weight (M-n) and the weight average molecular weight (M-w) by 84% and 42%, respectively, as shown by gel permeation chromatography (GPC), while scanning electron microscopy showed cracks at the surface of the PU-PE films as a result of enzymatic surface erosion. Furthermore, Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) analysis showed a reduction in the peaks at 1725 cm(-1), 1164 cm(-1) and 1139 cm(-1), indicating that the enzyme preferentially hydrolysed ester bonds, as also supported by the nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) results. Liquid chromatography time-of-flight/mass spectrometry (LC-MS-Tof) analysis revealed the presence in the incubation supernatant of all of the monomeric constituents of the polymer, thus suggesting that the enzyme was able to hydrolyse both the ester and the urethane bonds of the polymer.

Cutinase-Catalyzed Polyester-Polyurethane Degradation: Elucidation of the Hydrolysis Mechanism

Pellis, Alessandro
2022

Abstract

Polyurethanes (PU) are one of the most-used classes of synthetic polymers in Europe, having a considerable impact on the plastic waste management in the European Union. Therefore, they represent a major challenge for the recycling industry, which requires environmentally friendly strategies to be able to re-utilize their monomers without applying hazardous and polluting substances in the process. In this work, enzymatic hydrolysis of a polyurethane-polyester (PU-PE) copolymer using Humicola insolens cutinase (HiC) has been investigated in order to achieve decomposition at milder conditions and avoiding harsh chemicals. PU-PE films have been incubated with the enzyme at 50 degrees C for 168 h, and hydrolysis has been followed throughout the incubation. HiC effectively hydrolysed the polymer, reducing the number average molecular weight (M-n) and the weight average molecular weight (M-w) by 84% and 42%, respectively, as shown by gel permeation chromatography (GPC), while scanning electron microscopy showed cracks at the surface of the PU-PE films as a result of enzymatic surface erosion. Furthermore, Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) analysis showed a reduction in the peaks at 1725 cm(-1), 1164 cm(-1) and 1139 cm(-1), indicating that the enzyme preferentially hydrolysed ester bonds, as also supported by the nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) results. Liquid chromatography time-of-flight/mass spectrometry (LC-MS-Tof) analysis revealed the presence in the incubation supernatant of all of the monomeric constituents of the polymer, thus suggesting that the enzyme was able to hydrolyse both the ester and the urethane bonds of the polymer.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11567/1068928
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