Ambika Arkatkar, J. Arutchelvi, Sumit Bhaduri, Parasu Veera Uppara, Mukesh Doble
Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, 600036, India.
Unpretreated (PP - UT) and thermally pretreated (at 80°C for 10 days) polypropylene (PP - TT) films of 0.05 mm thickness were subjected to in vitro biodegradation in minimal medium with mixed soil culture for 12 months. In this period 10.7 and 0.4% weight loss was observed with PP-TT and PP-UT, respectively. The tensile strength decreased by 51.8 and 28.3%, the crystallinity increased by 28 and 33% and isotacticity increased by 3 and 9%, respectively, over the same time period. The ester carbonyl index in PP-TT increased up to 9 months and later decreased indicating abiotic followed by biotic process. No such changes were observed with PP-UT. Methyl group index decreased in both the cases indicating oxidation at the primary carbon. Increase in surface energy indicated that the polymer became hydrophilic. Surface changes were observed by SEM and AFM. A single culture was isolated at the end of 12 months and it was identified as Bacillus flexus. The morphology of the organism was rods in a chain and it was present in the form of an endospore.