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Journal of Polymers and the Environment
17, No.3, 2009; Pages: 170 - 180

Fouling and degradation of polycarbonate in seawater: field and lab studies

Trishul Artham, Mukesh Doble


Biofouling and ensuing microbial mediated degradation of Bisphenol A polycarbonate was studied by immersing the samples in sea water of Bay of Bengal (Chennai, India) for 3 months and also under controlled laboratory conditions with marine mixed microbial consortia for 12 months. A 9% weight loss in the sample was observed after 1 year of incubation under in vitro laboratory conditions. A 5% reduction in number average molecular weight and an additional oligomer with a molecular weight of 930 was observed in the same sample. Contact angle decreased by 11% indicating an increase in the surface hydrophilicity. The specific heat decreased by 44% and glass transition temperature decreased by 3°C with respect to the control indicating chain scission. Formation of new hydroxyl groups and cleavage of carbonate bonds in polycarbonate suggested biodegradation. About 9 μg mL−1 of Bisphenol A, a monomer of polycarbonate, as well as its oxidized products were detected in the supernatant. The nature of degradation in field and in vitro was different. It was predominantly oxidation in the former and hydrolysis in the later environment. A strain exhibiting hydrolase activity was isolated at the end of the 12 months from the in vitro mixed consortia and was identified, based on biochemical and 16S rDNA tests, as Pseudomonas sp.

Keywords: Pseudomonas sp. BP2 - Biodegradation - GPC - FTIR - Polycarbonate - Field studies.



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